Boalsburg Fire Company was called for the specialized rescue of two horses that had fallen into an in-ground swimming pool Tuesday morning.
The horses had stepped onto and broken through the pool’s cover and were treading water when crews arrived at the property on Russell Road in Harris Township, Fire Chief Van Winter said.
Winter said the horses, an mare and a foal, were in the deep end of the pool and were trying to get up onto the 4- to 5-inch-thick coating of ice. Shortly after the firefighters’ arrival, he said, the smaller horse made its way to the shallow end and got out after pallets were laid out.
Then, using ropes and bridles, the bigger horse was guided to the shallow end and several attempts were made to get her to step onto makeshift steps made from pallets. At about 1,200 pounds, she broke through a few times but more pallets were used to strengthen the rigged steps and she “finally just forced her way out,” Winter said.
Winter said he reached out to the County Animal Rescue Team and to Ed Maxwell, of Maxwell Trucking in College Township. CART, Winter said, is equipped with slings and members trained for such large-animal rescues, but not with backhoes. The backhoe was going to be provided by Maxwell, he said.
But those resources weren’t needed and, after about two hours on the scene — an hour or so working on a plan and gathering building materials and “a good hour” actually rescuing — the horses were exhausted but safe.
The fire company had never been called to such a rescue, and it took members of the company, State College police, LifeLink EMS, Maxwell and a representative from CART to come up with a plan.
“It’s one of those things you don’t train for,” Winter said. “You just work off the experience everyone has. It’s just an oddity that you don’t ever think you’re ever going to encounter. But you never know.”
The larger horse had some cuts and abrasions from the ice, Winter said, adding that the injuries did not appear to be serious and that both horses would be checked by a veterinarian.
“All in all a good end to a very unfortunate, odd way to start a Tuesday morning,” he said.