CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (CBS4) - Castle Rock firefighters spent hours Friday night into Saturday morning saving a horse buried in mud up to its torso. The department documented the dramatic rescue on social media.
They responded to East Willow Creek Road near South Ridge Road. They say the situation became difficult when they found the horse about half of a mile away from the road.
"Crew members had to dig through falling mud to sling the horse, set up a rope system, and pull the horse free from the mud and up a 10-ft embankment," they said on Twitter.
Firefighters arrived on scene around 11 p.m. Friday to find the horse up to its chest in mud. The harder it struggled, the deeper it sank.
First responders used webbing and a pulley system to carefully bring the horse, named Partner, up a 10-foot embankment.
It took 12 people, including eight firefighters to get him out of the mud near a retention pond. The task was challenging.
"We would try to remove the mud and the water from him but he was just stuck in there, that vacuum that was created from it. And so it took finally breaking that vacuum, that seal that was there for us to pop him up and out," said Lt. Jay Allen, a firefighter with the Castle Rock Police Department.
"First it was shock, and then trauma. And what do we do?" described Tiffany Flynn, Partner's owner.
"It was so scary," said Chris Flynn, Tiffany's husband.
Chris and Tiffany Flynn first tried to free the sinking animal from the mud, but soon found that they too were getting stuck.
Tiffany said she was close to waist-deep in the thick, sticky ground.
"My feet started sinking in and... there was no way I could get out of it," she said.
Firefighters helped pull her out and called a large animal veterinarian to sedate and anesthetize the horse while first responders worked to free Partner.
"It was a pretty bad situation," said Dr. Claire Summers. "This was probably the most technically difficult one that I've ever responded to."
Norris Croom, acting Chief for the Castle Rock Fire Department, said his team's good communication was instrumental in the successful outcome of a difficult job.
"We were trying to pull him out at an angle. And trying to dig out the mud. And the mud just keeps refilling into it. I mean our guys had a heck of a time just trying to get him unstuck."
The 1,200 pound Tennessee Walker was mud-stained Saturday, but had no injuries.
The mud extrication took close to three hours, Croom said.
"They saved him. I mean, he wouldn't be here right now if it wasn't for them," said a grateful Chris.
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