Stoven Hall Diaries Stuck in the mud!
8.29am the pager goes off, two ponies stuck in drainage ditch please attend.
In these situations you never quite know what you are going to be faced with until you arrive, and as a vet you have to be pretty much ready for anything. The practice car is always stocked and ready for every eventuality,from emergency first aid, to intravenous fluid therapy and shock treatment to to stitching wounds to general anaesthesia: in some instances for the safety of the horse and firecrew a horse has to be sedated or even anaesthetised to facilitate hoisting and recovery.
On my arrival firecrews were already in attendance including the horse recovery and underwater recovery team. I would like to say at this point what an incredible job they do and how lucky we are to have them especially to have a specially trained horse recovery team based in Lowestoft.
This situation was somewhat different to the norm (if indeed you can refer to a horse rescue as normal) as recovery using lifting equipment and hoists was prohibited by the nature of the pit the ponies had become trapped in. It was surrounded by woodland and shrub making access for the lifting equipment impossible. What looked like the bottom of a pit covered in leaves was in fact an old pond devoid of water but full of mud of a sinking consistency. Movement of any animal (and humans) in this situation has to be with care, as any further panic or flailing in the thick mud would result in the ponies being sucked down, sinking further.
Using a strategically placed set of straps carefully positioned around the pony, (without becoming trapped in the mud yourself doing it I might add), an incredible team of very strong firemen (and very lovely firemen I might add– am I allowed to say that?!!), and an exceptional young pony who did not panic but did everything we asked of him in a calm and controlled manner, we managed to free him of the mud and recover him to the safety of the bank.
Shocked, hypothermic and tired with a few minor wounds he remained stable on his feet. Due to the location of the pit access with a horsebox was also not possible. Once he was deemed fit to move we carefully escorted him back to his home stable , and continued the process of warming both ponies up and treating the shock, then came the huge task of removing the mud. An almost black pony suddenly changed to piebald. I am happy to say both ponies are fully recovered.
Never underestimate the adventurous nature of our four legged friends. The most secure fencing can be seen as a challenge to an escape artist.