Firefighters use strength and smarts to rescue horse that fell on ice

A couple from Emyvale, P.E.I., is thanking local firefighters and neighbours who helped get their horse back on its hooves after it fell on the ice.

A dozen firefighters worked together to help a horse that fell, and couldn't get back up

Members of the North River Fire Department helped a horse get back on its hooves. (Submitted by Dean Smith)

A couple from Emyvale, P.E.I., is thanking local firefighters and neighbours who helped get their horse back on its hooves after it fell on the ice.

Kaitlin and Chris Noye arrived home Saturday afternoon to discover their 26-year-old horse, Lindsay, lying on a large icy section of their field, unable to get up. 

"She was shaking, which was terrifying. She was cold, and she obviously hadn't had any water or hay, she couldn't reach anything," said Kaitlin.

The couple tried to help the horse up by giving it a push. But they quickly realized that wouldn't work.

"After a lot of trying we realized she was seriously stuck," said Kaitlin.

Unsure what else to do, they called the North River Fire Department, which came to the rescue. 

Coordinated lift

This isn't the first time the department has rescued a horse. In 2016, firefighters rescued a horse from a swimming pool.

"That time, brute strength basically helped the horse get out of the pond. This time, we were going to try the same thing," said deputy fire chief Dean Smith. 

In the end, the firefighters managed to lift the horse with the help of a tractor. (Submitted by Dean Smith)

The firefighters got straps underneath the horse, and started to lift.

"It sounds like, unachievable, but if you get 12 guys, it's surprising what you can do. So we got the straps and we lifted the horse, but she wasn't able to bear weight after we got her up, and there was no way we were going to be able to hold the horse up long enough for it to get circulation going," Smith said. 

Plan B

When the first attempt failed, the crew came up with another solution.

They enlisted the help of a neighbour, who found someone nearby with a tractor, which they used to lift the horse.

"We figured if we used the straps we had, lifted the horse, the circulation would start to move through her hind legs, and that's exactly what happened," said Smith. 

Dean Smith, deputy chief of the North River Fire Department says helping the horse was a learning experience. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

The crew carefully led her back to the barn where while still attached to the tractor, to avoid another fall. 

Smith said the firefighters learned new skills from the experience. And after a second horse rescue in just a few years, he expects the department might invest in some new equipment, to help with any future incidents. 

"I think we'll have some horse rescue equipment in the truck before too long," he said.

Grateful for help

Kaitlin Noye said the possibility of her horses falling is something she regularly worries about, and that her "biggest fear" came true when she saw Lindsay lying helpless on the ground.

She's grateful to firefighters and neighbours who helped, and she said Lindsay is doing well.

Kaitlin Noye is grateful for those who helped get her horse, Lindsay, back on her hooves. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

"That's one good thing about the country," she said.

"Everybody knows everybody, and everybody wants to help."

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About the Author

Sarah MacMillan

Sarah MacMillan is a journalist with CBC P.E.I.