The dappled horse made for a forlorn figure Tuesday as he greeted first responders from his unusual perch.
The horse, approximately 8 years old, found himself in a predicament. After grazing peacefully for years in the same sunny field in Botetourt County, a misstep sent him dipping down into a small sinkhole that had opened in a piece of the pasture.
He was now stuck, sitting on his hindquarters, in need of assistance.
Luckily, Botetourt County responders were well trained for this.
“It happens about every six to nine months,” said Botetourt County Fire & EMS Chief Jason Ferguson.
While the circumstances vary, large animal calls aren’t unprecedented for the rural county, which has come to the rescue of everything from horses to cattle.
Both first responders and animal control are trained in the work and have equipment on hand. A veterinarian pitched in by sedating the horse to keep him calm. A mask was also slipped over his eyes to help keep his nerves steady.
Crews then secured a special harness around the horse and hoisted him out of the sinkhole. In all, it took about two hours to free him.
He was soon on his feet and was given snacks, as well as a shady spot under a tent, as he regained his composure. He showed no visible signs of deeper injury.
“He was lucky,” said Ferguson, adding that after a harried afternoon, the horse now appeared free to go back to “eating hay and enjoying life.”
“Thankfully, we had the right training and people there to take care of it. It’s a partnership,” Ferguson added.
In addition to animal control and county fire and EMS, volunteer fire departments from Eagle Rock, Fincastle and Troutville aided in the call.