Horse Owners, this video of a rescue of a horse entrapped in mud in PA is worth a watch. These rescues, as for most equine technical rescue incidents, are measured in hours, not minutes, so have a plan in place. Please read every word of what I’ve written here – it comes straight from the best equine rescue professionals available!

Horse Trapped In Mud, Recovering After Amazing Rescue

Here are your take home points. Remember them in case your horse ends up in this situation:

  1. If it is SAFE FOR YOU (do NOT become entrapped yourself – you will NOT be helping your horse because rescuers MUST now rescue YOU first!) to do so, put a tarp or cushion of some type underneath the horse’s head so it does not aspirate any mud or water. All it takes is one good schnoz of muck, and your horse could survive the entrapment and rescue but succumb later to an aspiration pneumonia…
  2. Your FIRST CALL should be to your Veterinarian! How long does it take your vet to come for an emergency? An hour or more? Get them started on their way… Horses in these situations can quickly become hypothermic even on a warm day. A veterinarian can treat them, even while entrapped, for hypothermia and other potential complications. A Veterinarian is the only person who can diagnose and treat any associated injury, and can facilitate the rescue – and rescuer safety – with sedation or field anesthesia as needed.
  3. Your SECOND CALL should be to a specially equipped equine technical rescue team.. While municipal first responders or other professional rescuers will absolutely make heroic efforts to assist your horse, they – with very rare exception – simply do not have the proper equipment designed for use on horses in these incidents. Horses around here typically weigh an average of 1,300 pounds or more… Most rescue equipment, designed for humans, has nowhere near the working load limits required to safely and effectively use on horses. In most cases, these rescuers end up in the mud with the horse, attempting to dig it out or place rescue straps around it or, worse still, are not familiar with proper equine rescue techniques and resort to using ropes to pull on the horse’s head, neck, legs or tail… This can have disasterous consequences for your horse!We WILL call first responders for their expertise and help and manpower – but they will likely need specialized equipment to effectively rescue your horse!

    Patriot Equine Technical Rescue has the equipment to do this properly!

    • We have a special air supplied and purpose specific rescue strap guide, designed to make time-consuming and dangerous digging unnecessary…
    • We have an air supplied jetting wand to properly break the surface tension of thick mud from around a horse’s legs…
    • We have a state of the art equine vertical lift rescue sling, which is the preferred method of extricating a horse entrapped this deeply in thick mud, if heavy equipment has access and is available. If not, we have the equipment, training and experience to do a safe and proper sideways drag…
    • We have a complete Rescue Glide to move the recumbent horse from the area if it is unable to stand on its own after successful extrication…


  4. Provide clear access to the animal – open gates, move debris, have a friend wait at the unmarked front drive so you are easy to find etc.
  5. Do you have a farm tractor (a big one, not the lawn mower…) or know of a neighbor with a back hoe? Have them warm it up and get it on its way… A local tree service or  construction company with a crane or a boom is suitable, too!Most importantly, do not jeopardise your safety, and do not waste valuable time pulling or digging yourself, or having friends come help you dig, etc. You can do that if need be AFTER you have started the appropriate resources in your direction. If you get the horse out before help arrives, you can cancel the call, but at least they are on the way.

There is nothing more frustrating for trained and properly equipped equine rescue teams than getting a call HOURS into fruitless rescue efforts, when the horse is exhausted, cold and seriously at risk, or after first responders have been hurt – as recently happened in Massachusetts.

Most of all, prevention is key; if you have muddy areas or ponds that freeze on your property, fence them off now!

For the horses…

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