Dr. Derek Cavatorta and technician Kim Maguy of SRH Veterinary Services were recently involved in the rescue of a draft mare that broke through a fence and got stuck down in the mud.

With the help of Patriot Equine Technical Rescue Services, they were able use a tractor and a specially designed sling to get the mare back on her feet. She was treated for exhaustion and hypothermia and, fortunately, made a full recovery.

Many thanks to Kate Dwyer at Patriot Equine Technical Rescue for the technical support!

Normally, we wouldn’t share details or photos from rescue incidents out of respect for “patient” and owner privacy, but this call was really spectacular. The post comes from the treating veterinarian, SRH Veterinary Services (with the owner’s permission for pictures). The knowledge that it can impart to other horse owners is simply too valuable not to share.

This wonderful horse had a great outcome thanks to a fabulous team effort by everyone on scene and outstanding veterinary care. Many horses in these situations do not survive these incidents due to complications from improper rescue techniques, hypothermia from prolonged entrapment or medical complications due to prolonged recumbency. Many are “rescued” but succumb to these potentially avoidable complications days later. 

It is really important that horse owners know what TO DO and what NOT TO DO in mud/unstable ground entrapments.

  • Firstly, call your veterinarian. They can, if it is safe, begin evaluating and treating the horse for potential complications.
  • Next, call proper equine technical rescue responders so that proper and proven equipment is on the way. Make sure your local equine responders’ number is posted in your barn.
    For owners in NE Massachusetts, call PatriotETR or contact the MSPCA at Nevins Farm in Methuen, MA.
  • Call the right type of help EARLY! Proper equine technical rescue equipment can reduce the time a horse is entrapped or recumbent by many, many hours — this can make the difference between life or death for your horse.

Municipal first responders will make heroic efforts to assist you and your horse, but relatively few are trained in proper equine technical rescue methods. Equipment designed for humans will not work on horses because of their size and weight. Proper equine rescue equipment has come a long way, and we have purpose-designed rescue strap guides and other equipment made for use in these types of incidents.

Equally important is what NOT TO DO:

  • DO NOT improvise ways of trying to pull the horse out by tugging on its head, neck, tail or limbs!
  • DO NOT spend hours trying to dig the horse out by hand! Just because something similar showed up on YouTube or TV doesn’t mean it was done RIGHT.

This lovely mare was saved by a combination of tremendous team effort, knowing the appropriate rescue professionals to call and getting the right type of help involved early.

Wishing you and yours a safe and happy New Year from all of us at PatriotETR!


srh-rescue-lift2 srh-rescue-standing


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s