Two Clydesdales who fell into a frozen-over lake a mile away from their home had to be cut free from the ice using chainsaws.
Gunther and Wilhelm broke free from their home field at Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm in Pennsylvania, US, early on Saturday morning (16 February).
They were found up to their necks in freezing water, in temperatures of about -5C.
Quiet Valley’s marketing director Debbie Di Pasquale told H&H the two 15-year-old geldings must have been “very motivated” to break out, as the substantial fencing was new last summer.
“If you’ve got a horse who really wants to get out, it would be pretty hard to stop it,” she said. “You’d need a wall like President Trump wants to build.
“The mule – Janey – got out too but she was the smart one, she didn’t want to go on the adventure.”
The horses wandered towards the lake, which Debbie pointed out could have looked like a field under a covering of snow, and walked towards the middle, where their combined weight of some 3,000lbs proved too much for the ice.
A neighbour spotted them through binoculars and called emergency services.
“The response was just wonderful,” Debbie said. “A number of fire companies and our vet came right out, and the only way to free the horses, as they couldn’t climb out on top of the ice, was to cut a pathway.
“The chainsaws sped things up a bit as they were in the middle – it was a long pathway.
“They got hold of the halters, and Gunther came quite quickly; he was almost herding Wilhelm as it had taken a bigger toll on him. Thank heaven the lake was shallow enough they could stand up and didn’t have to tread water to keep their heads above water as that would have been exhausting.”
Ms Di Pasquale said Gunther was able to walk on to the shore when he reached it, and although Wilhelm was down for some time, and had suffered some minor scrapes, he was eating hay almost immediately and neither horse was badly hurt.
“It was so scary but so wonderful to see the community response,” Debbie said. “Neighbours came out; some lent the rescue guys a boat; they brought out blankets and towels, and even a heater; then the boys were able to walk back to the barn themselves.”
Debbie said since the rescue, the vet has returned to ensure the horses are well, while work has been going on to reinforce the farm’s boundaries.
“We’ve spent three days putting a double line of electric fencing up and replacing the railings; hopefully they won’t decide to go adventuring again,” she said. “Maybe they wanted to do a polar plunge – or maybe they’d heard Budweiser was interviewing across the lake, but our executive director says they’re grounded now!
Frodo was found in a pile of mouldy hay unable to stand, but has now become a showing champion
We asked H&H readers to send in their best fancy dress efforts. Here are some of our favourite costumes from
“But they look great for horses who have been through what they did, and I can’t thank everyone enough for helping; the fire companies, the vet, the neighbours – it could have been so much worse. Thank heaven for happy endings.”
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.