A central Alberta man says he was glad to have been able to help save the life of a horse caught in a creek amid freezing cold temperatures on Monday but hopes to never have to experience anything like the ordeal again.
“I’ve never come across this and hope to never again,” Cody Scott, 20, who lives just outside of Rimbey, Alta., said.
He said at around noon on Monday, a neighbour came by to ask if he could help find her horse that had wandered off. He was told what direction it was headed in and decided to hop on his snowmobile to look for it.
He saw a man who was also looking for the horse and shortly thereafter, they spotted it, with only its head and neck sticking out of the ice in Lloyd Creek, near the Rimbey gas plant. He called the local fire department before trying to help the horse out of the freezing water.
Scott said he tried to pull the animal out by tying a rope around the horse’s neck and head and fastening it to the snowmobile but “there was no budge at all because we’re talking about a big Clydesdale horse.”
He said the man helping him told him more people would be arriving shortly to help with the rescue attempt and they tried pulling the horse out again by attaching a winch to the snowmobile.
“During this process… my Ski-Doo belt had blown and the Ski-Doo was no longer an option,” Scott explained.
Scott said the horse appeared to be quite calm but was having increasingly more difficulty breathing and was beginning to stiffen up from the ice and cold.
“We were running out of options and running out of time,” he said.
Scott, along with four or five other people, began tugging on the horse by hand. He said their efforts were made more difficult by the horse constantly sinking deeper into the muskeg.
But then Scott said they noticed one of the horse’s front feet had come loose from the muskeg so he suggested tying a rope around the one foot that was free, pull her up above the ice and “maybe give her her own leverage and she can help us pull as well.”
He said he then took off his jacket and rolled up his sleeves and as his fellow rescuers held onto him, he reached into the icy water and tied her foot that was free.
“We were able to get both her front feet out and her upper body out of the water and she was able to help us a lot more.”
Scott said at this point, the rescue had been going on for almost three hours and several firefighters showed up and helped to fully pull the horse to safety.
“I don’t know what I would have done if it was just me,” he said. “It was just a big team effort.”
During parts of the rescue, Scott was wearing a a GoPro camera mounted to his chest. He later posted the video of some of those dramatic moments to Facebook and by Tuesday night, the video had already been viewed more than 17,000 times.
He said the owners thanked him for his efforts.
Scott said he hasn’t been able to speak to the horse’s owners since the rescue, but via social media he’s heard the horse “made it through the night” under the care of a veterinarian and that he hopes it makes a full recovery.
Rimbey is about 145 kilometres southwest of Edmonton.