Darren Doyle, story and photos:
It took a whole lot of teamwork and all sorts of items used from around the farm, but a 33 year-old horse was rescued today after he fell through the ice on a frozen pond.
The incident occurred today at the farm of Danny and Darlene Vincent of Rocky Hill where fire departments were called out to assist Edmonson County Animal Control with the rescue around 4:00PM. According to those at the scene, the horse, fitly named "Old Man," who was recently adopted by the Vincents, walked out onto the frozen pond and made it about 25 feet from the shore when the ice broke and trapped the horse.
McKenzie Vincent, a daughter, said he had been turned loose from the barn for the first time in three weeks, as he requires special treatment and feed, due to his age. Because he wasn't used to the herd, he wandered off toward the pond and fell in. McKenzie said that emergency personnel had arrived and were working on breaking the ice in a pathway toward the horse but not wanting to spare any more time, Darlene and Breanna Bruce of Pig swam out into the icy water to try to get the horse.
"Brianna got out there and rode him up to the bank, but that's as far as he could get," Darlene said. "That's when he went down and it didn't look like he was going to get back up."
The horse was exhausted and almost in shock when he collapsed onto the bank, which was extremely steep and solid mud. Those involved in the rescue had trouble maneuvering in the ankle-deep mud and manure, and a couple of them were even working in their sock feet.
Several involved were at least waist-deep in the icy pond as they used ropes, makeshift block and tackles, a winch from a pickup truck, tote lids, extra tires, and anything else they could MacGyver together to get underneath and around the horse's body to assist him in trying to get up the steep muddy bank.
After falling though the ice, the horse was still able to stand, due to the fact that the pond was very shallow in that spot. It was simply a matter of getting him routed back to the bank the way he came, which proved to be quite difficult with a freezing horse in shock that's 33 years old.
Workers fashioned a harness of sorts from rope and other tack, which was then hooked to a winch on an Animal Control pickup truck. The winch was able to pull the horse up a few inches at a time while others held ropes from the bridle to keep the horse's head up. Every few inches, it would all have to be readjusted in order to keep from injuring the already traumatized horse.
After about an hour, the group started under one side of the horse and began pushing him over. The horse was finally moved to a spot where he could stand. The shouts of joy that went out from the family sounded like an old fashioned tent revival as they quickly got the horse inside a barn with a blanket, heat, food, and water.
Old Man arrived at the Vincents about three months ago, due to a family that moved out of state and couldn't take the horse with them. The Vincents adopted him as one of their own. It's unclear to what extent of trauma the horse experienced and how that will affect his recovery but Darlene said she was willing to stay in the barn with him tonight to keep an eye on him if necessary.
The Vincents have 13 horses on their farm. McKenzie said the horse has a more formal name, but since it was pretty long and hard to remember, everyone calls him "Old Man."
"We take the ones nobody wants," Darlene said. "We just take care of them. We brought him here to live out his days. I want to thank the fire departments and everyone for their help. We appreciate it so much."
Responding to the scene were the Rocky Hill and Chalybeate Fire Departments, along with Edmonson County Animal Control. They were all covered head-to-toe in mud, but the Chalybeate VFD even had time to jump a dead battery from someone's vehicle at the scene after the rescue.