Firefighters Rescue Blind Horse from Canal

Poudre Fire Authority (PFA) firefighters rescued a blind horse from a canal near the intersection of N. Giddings Rd. and E. CR 56 (northeast of Fort Collins) today, July 6, 2024. Responders were dispatched at 9:52 a.m. and located Lacy, a female horse in her 20s, up to her shoulders in moderate flowing water.PFA’s Large Animal Rescue Team (LART) was dispatched alongside a Colorado State University CSU) animal care team and a UCHealth ambulance.

A firefighter, trained in swiftwater and animal rescues, entered the canal to be with the horse and begin rescue operations. He put a harness on Lacy to ensure they would not be separated and to help guide her to safety. Lacy was alert but not moving and tucked against the steep bank. Responders considered using a boom truck to hoist her out, but access was difficult plus, the horse began to move and even swam a short distance.

Rescuers helped guide Lacy farther downstream and under a bridge to an area with much less steep banks in the hopes that she could climb out. CSU veterinarian staff were on the shore, providing recommendations and answering questions about how best to keep Lacy calm and safe.

Lacy, already tired, did not have the strength to exit on her own even with assistance from the several firefighters on ropes. She laid down after a short attempt. Responders comforted her and the animal care team was able to provide a mild sedative. The team made a new plan to secure her further and pull Lacy up with a winch system.

“Although the sides were much less steep, they still posed significant risks, especially since the horse was tired. The bank was rocky and still at a good incline. The team had hoped to coax her out even a little farther downstream where the exit would have been easier, but she wouldn’t move anymore,” said Poudre Fire Authority Public Information Officer Annie Bierbower.

The team carefully secured Lacy and connected her to the winch system on the front of the PFA brush unit then pulled her up the bank and safely to shore where the CSU medical team immediately checked vitals and began care.

Lacy was able to stand once the mild sedation wore off. She suffered several cuts and scrapes on her legs but seemed to quickly put the rescue behind her with the help of some fresh hay and loving strokes. It is unconfirmed how Lacy escaped her pen but it is believed to have happened sometime the previous night. The entire rescue took three hours.

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