Alberta wild horse advocates are thankful they were at the right place at the right time on Wednesday, when they came across a young horse that had become trapped in muskeg.
The two-year-old horse is believed to have been stuck for hours in the mud pit north of Calgary, near Sundre.
The group had ventured out on ATVs to capture photographs of young horses in the wild when they changed courses at the last minute and came across the struggling filly.
Darla Connelly spotted the horse, barely moving, and called the group back to investigate. She said there was no way the group would leave the animal there to die.
“We got there and my heart broke. What are we going to do?
Help Alberta Wildies Society’s Darrell Glover said the thick mud and ice made it impossible for the animal to get out on its own. He estimates the hole she fell into must have been at least five or six feet deep.
“You have a little bit of fear that you might not get her out properly.
“When you see her, you’re not sure how long she’s been there or how bad of a shape she’s in,” Glover said.
Glover said the group always comes prepared when out in the wild, packing survival items like ropes and straps.
After an arduous hour of strapping the horse in and to the ATV, Glover said they were able to free the animal from the muskeg.
“She was stuck in there pretty good.
“A lot of horses do die that way and by, just a chance of luck of us coming by, this one was saved,” he said.
Glover said with predators like bears and wolves out in the wild, by morning she likely would have been dead. He said the young horse was exhausted and starving.
“One thing you might notice if you watch the video again is that she had eaten every single blade of grass or anything that she could eat within reach,” he said.
Glover said while he hasn’t personally come across a horse in the mud, he has seen lots of evidence of bones near the muskegs, saying many horses become trapped there during the springtime.
“That’s where the grass breeds up first, and the horses are used to walking on that once again, while the frost is still in the ground. This particular time, after a couple of days of rain and things like that, the ground softens up a lot more,” he explained.
“[The horses] can be surprised by unsuspectingly stepping into those holes,” he said.
Connelly said she plans to check up on the wild horse this weekend.
The group said the animal was likely left behind by her herd after she became trapped in the mud.
Connelly said they’re hoping the filly is able to link back up with her band.