With a very heavy heart… I must tell you that Sven passed. He had vets attending 24/7, and they all thought he had turned a corner… but he stopped breathing.

Huge, heavy and very sad sigh.

I feel so badly that little Sven didn’t make it.  But his 24/7 caretakers are overwhelmed with grief..  Especially since they thought that they had turned a corner… they thought he was improving, and he was.  But at midnight, he started having labored breathing – and he gently lost awareness and passed.

So sad.  Such a great effort.

Using a hay bale to maintain sternal position. Providing some goat’s milk diluted in warm water.


The silver lining is that after paying medical bills, LRTC will have some of our donation funds left over to purchase equipment in Sven’s honor.

After the news, Willis Lamm (who was a principal care giver and who was devastated by this loss) put his emotions to pen to create a list of what they will purchase with the residual of Sven’s funds – and beyond.

(from Willis Lamm)

The vet and his assistant provided many hours of labor for free so the funds raised should have some residual after expenses are paid.  Based on what we learned in these ice rescues we’ve gone ahead and ordered some better equipment.

Shanks Recovery Hoods (head protectors.)

We typically use life vests for animal eye protection during rescues but we’ve discovered that in some calls, particularly ice rescues, the animals’ eyes have taken a beating before we get there.  While the padding of a life vest will protect from dragging and impact, it also places pressure against injured eyes.  In the case of Sven, we couldn’t let him rest out of the sling because he would grind junk into his injured eyes if he wiggled around while lying down.  That inability may have hastened his loss of strength.  However we didn’t want to end up with a blind horse.

We have ordered two full size and one medium size head protectors.  Two sizes will be for the Lyon County team and one full size for the Douglas County team.  We’ll still likely use the life vests for simple operations but where eye damage is an issue, we’ll be using purpose built head protectors.  The costs of all three plus shipping will be around $700.00.

Rope rescue gear improvements.

We found out that our rope rescue gear compliment was severely under-equipped.  It served us well for ordinary calls, however this past weekend we got double-whammied.  Gear designed for field work doesn’t necessarily serve the purpose when we need to set up slings and restraints indoors.  Plus we weren’t prepared for a second call that required rope rescue gear (the mare on the ice) when our equipment was tied up with the first call (Sven.)  Fortunately the town’s fire/ambulance crew was in quarters and brought their rope rescue gear to the mare’s call but they aren’t always available for non fire-EMS calls.  The FD has promised to give us some “hand me down” rescue rope early next year but we need additional accessories (pulleys, caribiners, Gibbs (braking devices,) etc.  Those items, some which have been ordered, will cost close to $300.00 total with shipping.

Sling issues.

Something that we need to consider but may be too pricey is a Liftex equine sling.

Sven was too small for the horse sized Becker sling.  We tried for three hours to find a configuration that would work with a 5 month old horse and failed.  The Munk sling also was too big for a 400 Lb. horse although it would probably work great for a horse in the 500-700 Lb. range.  Liftex makes a sling that should work well for these smaller horses however it costs around $2,100.00 including estimated shipping.


The huge benefit of the Liftex sling over the Munk sling is that with a case like Sven’s, we could let the sling down and let him rest without having to release him completely from the sling, and avoid having to go through the whole process of rigging him up again when we needed to return him to a vertical position.

To  be totally straightforward, we can’t say with reasonable certainty that better equipment would have changed Sven’s outcome.  He simply may have been down on the ice too long.  We can say with reasonable certainty that better equipment would have made the operation safer on the volunteers and the horse, would reduce stress on the horse, and better prepare us for multiple calls – especially since we’re the only game covering 4 counties.

BTW, the mare on the ice call marked our 200th call for 2017.  I don’t think any other all-volunteer crews make so many large animal calls.

Props to Horse and Man.  Most of our success stories utilize equipment that Horse and Man readers have helped us obtain.


If anyone would like to make a 100% tax deductible donate to help LRTC purchase the larger piece of equipment pictured here, in Sven’s honor, please click here and thank you.


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2 comments have been posted...

  1. Suzan Jackson

    You have Sven much more than what he would have otherwise had. He knew who cared, he tried his best with his fight for survival instincts. Sven gave his all, showing you that he appreciated all you have for him. Now he is with his extended family, playing as hard as he can. You can’t hear him whinny but he is telling his story about people who care.

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