Horse Gets in Hayloft; Needs Some Help Getting Back Down


Phoenix got himself into a predicament.

On October 14, the palomino got into a “tussle” with a new horse at his home, and in his hurry to escape the conflict, he broke down the barrier to the stairs leading up to the hayloft above the barn. Horses don’t usually climb up stairs, and climbing down is even more of a challenge for them. Phoenix’s owner attempted to coax him back down, but to no avail.

Fortunately, the owner found out about the Little Fork Volunteer Technical Large Animal Rescue Team from a friend, and called them out to help. While waiting for the team to arrive, she stayed with Phoenix and groomed him to keep him calm, and scheduled a vet to be on hand when the rescue team arrived. Additionally, several responders from the county animal control office and fire department were ready to help.

According to a Facebook post by the Rescue Team, Phoenix was outfitted with protective leg wraps, heavily sedated, then moved onto the team’s rescue glide, which was rigged with a chain hoist and a secondary safety rope and pulley system. They would use this system to carefully slide him down the stairs.

There were a few additional complications in this already challenging rescue operation. One was that Phoenix has heaves and therefore could not be strapped down to the glide as tightly as the rescuers normally would have done due to concerns about his breathing. The other was that the stairway was too narrow to fit a sideways horse, and so Phoenix’s legs had to drawn up close to his body once he was sedated and on the glide, and even then it was a tight fit. His front hooves got hung up briefly during the descent, but fortunately, the team was able to move them and complete the job.

But the struggle didn’t end there. Once he was outside and the straps and rigging removed, Phoenix attempted to stand but collapsed in respiratory arrest. The vet on scene performed an emergency tracheotomy, and Phoenix began to breathe again. Ultimately, he was able to stand and move safely into the barn—the lower level of the barn. According to the Facebook post from two days after the rescue operation, Phoenix has had the tracheotomy tube removed and is doing well.

Find out more about the Little Fork Volunteer Technical Large Animal Rescue Team on their website, and help this volunteer group continue helping horses through their YouCaring crowdfunding page here.

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Leslie Potter is a graduate of William Woods University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Equestrian Science with a concentration in saddle seat riding and a minor in Journalism/Mass Communications. She is currently a writer and photographer in Lexington, KY.Potter worked as a barn manager and riding instructor and was a freelance reporter and photographer for the Horsemen's Yankee Pedlar and Saddle Horse Report before moving to Lexington to join Horse Illustrated as Web Editor from 2008 to 2019. Her current equestrian pursuits include being a grown-up lesson kid at an eventing barn and trail riding with her senior Morgan gelding, Snoopy.



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