Firefighters rescue trapped horse

Published 6:33 pm Friday, March 3, 2023

TV shows often show firefighters saving a cat that is stuck in a tree. Thursday’s call brought out seven units from Suffolk Fire and Rescue to aid a horse that was down and stuck in its stall.

The call came in at 11:26 a.m. Thursday, March 2 from owners of the horse in the 4400 block of Adams Swamp Rd. The owner told the Suffolk 911 center that his horse was laying down in a stall and was unable to get up on her own, Lt. Lucas Weaver said Friday.

He said Engine 8 was initially dispatched for the call, but after learning more about the situation, dispatchers upgraded the call to a technical rescue response. 


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“The owner advised that the 35-year-old horse had laid down in her stall overnight and was now unable to get back to her feet,” Weaver said. “She was uninjured and just needed assistance standing up.”

Crews arrived and immediately began developing a plan to remove the horse from her stall and get her back on her feet. He said the crews were split into two groups with one team removing the horse from her stall to a nearby driveway and the other team setting up a bi-pod system to use an elevated anchor point to hoist the animal back to her feet. 

“Working diligently to reduce further down time for the horse, the teams were able to safely move the animal to the established lifting point and raise her to her feet in 45 minutes,” Weaver said. “At this point, with the assistance of the animal’s farrier who is also a firefighter for Chesapeake Fire Department, crews began to slowly lower the system to put the weight of the animal back on her feet. Once she had reestablished her balance, the system was released and the horse walked away under her own power.”

He said that after a good brushing, bath and treatment of minor cuts and scrapes, the horse returned to graze in the pasture.

“This is certainly not a run of the mill fire department call,” Weaver said. “However, it is one that we have seen quite the need for in recent years. Over the past five years, I would estimate that we have averaged five calls per year similar to this one with a slight uptick each year as the community becomes more aware of our capabilities.”

Due to the growing need, Weaver said that in 2017, Fire and Rescue began training its Technical Rescue Team members on large animal rescue. Since then, they have partnered with 4Hooves Large Animal Services out of North Carolina to certify about 20 team members. 

“4Hooves owners Justin and Tori McLeod have also been instrumental in the department’s process of spec’ing out and purchasing a full cache of technical rescue equipment specifically for large animal rescue,” Weaver said.  

Seven units, Engines 8 and 2, Rescue 1, Medic 8, Safety 1,Tech Trailer and EMS 1 worked to make this technical rescue a success.