Four-hour operation to free gelding from narrow ditch

  • An event horse in New Zealand became trapped in a ditch that was just 80 centimetres wide.

    It was thought the eight-year-old thoroughbred gelding became stuck in a two-metre-deep drainage ditch in the Horowhenua District on Monday night (9 May).

    He was discovered early on Tuesday and rescue groups were notified.

    Ditch horse rescue nz2

    Massey University Veterinary Emergency Response Team (VERT) were joined by firefighters and the Palmerston North Urban Search and Rescue Team.

    The team began work at around 9am.

    The horse was sedated and digger operator Scott Stratton worked for four hours removing soil while others monitored the sides of the ditch to ensure they did not collapse on the gelding.

    Ditch horse rescue nz1

    Once the digging was completed, strops were placed on the horse, who was given a general anaesthetic before being lifted from the ditch.

    The horse was on his feet in around 15 minutes.

    Vets gave him intravenous fluids and checked him over and found no bones had been broken.

    Ditch horse rescue 3

    “This extraction required a lot of movement of dirt,” said a VERT spokesman.

    “The animal was squeezed into the muddy ditch, with the pressure from the sides compromising his breathing.

    “We had an amazing digger operator. Once the dirt was removed from the chest and abdominal area he was able to breathe a lot better.

    Ditch horse rescue 4

    “We had a lot of happy responders and owners once we saw the horse standing.”

    He said it was a “very challenging rescue” and thanked all those that assisted with the rescue.

    “We have been overwhelmed with words of encouragement and support,” he added.

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