Wow!   A Virginia Range (Nevada) Wild horse stallion was rescued from falling through a newly designed cattle grate.

I was told by Willis Lamm from Least Resistance Training Concepts Large Animal Emergency Response Team that the Drop in the Bucket Fund had majorly contributed to this miraculous wild mustang rescue!

We have helped LRTC purchase emergency equipment, including an A-Frame earlier this year, and all of that equipment was used to help this stallion.  Thank you, donors!  Way to go!  Look what you helped achieve for this wild horse!

And thank you to LRTC LARGE ANIMAL ER TEAM!!!

Note:  This was all done without sedation…  amazing.  A wild horse.  They kept him calm.  Bravo!

The scene on arrival. All four legs in the cattle guard. A citizen familiar with horses placed a jacket over the stallion’s head to help keep him quiet while we were caching out gear nearby.  (A totally wild stallion, stuck in a newly designed cattle guard.)

A note from Willis Lamm, who posted about this Least Resistance Training Concepts Large Animal Emergency save:

We received two calls almost simultaneously. This one was by far the scariest and trickiest. NHP reported a wild horse stuck in a cattle guard on US-95A at Damon’s curve.

Cattle guard rescues are my worst nightmare. You have to work up close in a dangerous situation. One wrong move and someone gets hurt or the horse breaks a leg and has to be put down. NHP did a great job keeping the Lookie Lous away. Our crew was assisted by Brittany and Linda from LBL Equine Rescue, and some really great crews from North Lyon County Fire and Central Lyon County Fire.

Normally if a horse steps on one of these newer cattle guards and his toe slips through the grating, it’s because when his hoof rotates into a toe down position it’s narrower and slips through. His heel bulbs may compress a little in the process. Most times the horse lifts his leg back up, there’s a little squeeze against the heel bulb as it passes through the narrow slot, but he gets out OK.

Where this issue gets challenging is when the horse spins around, the hoof is no longer at an angle of practical extrication (the sides of the hoof won’t compress to pass through as the heel bulbs would) and the horse is basically stuck fast until everything can be repositioned correctly.

Add to that a 900 – 1000 Lb. animal that needs to be repositioned. Then end up dropping other legs through the grate making things exponentially more complicated.

In this case a combination of rescue harnesses, recovery straps, pulley systems and pry bars, applied calmly and deliberately so as not to overly agitate the horse, eventually got the job done.

The motor noise in the video is from a nearby fire engine. Its crew fired up its generator in the event we needed to cut some welds in the cattle guard since the Jaws of Life wouldn’t budge it. It turned out, however, that we were able to adjust our approach to achieve a successful extrication angle for one hind leg that was totally jammed.


Two legs out. Sliding a slip sheet under to keep them from dropping through again. Tying the slip sheet to the cattle guard so the horse can’t accidentally kick it out of the way. The horse was rolled slightly using the recovery strap to help take the load off his legs.

Setting up a Z-rig attached to the tip of the cattle guard end frame. We had to use a Becker Sling and 3:1 Z-rig to roll the horse over to free the legs on his left side.

These cattle guards are made up of self-supporting sections that are approx. 6 feet (longitudinally) by 7 ft. (across the cattle guard.) The photo shows the arrangement of the tie straps across the top and the T-beams that support the structure from underneath,

The spacing between the square tubing grates is four inches, allowing most animals to self extricate if they drop a single leg through and don’t get pinned between the tie straps and T-bars.

The arrow points to one of the many confined spaces where an animal could get significantly bound up. Such entrapment is not common but as we discovered during the last incident, it can happen and it creates an extrication challenge.

Rolling the horse over and preparing to free his other legs.

Using pry bars to free the hooves. Typically one bar would be used to turn the hoof so it pointed downward (providing a narrower aspect to squeeze through the grate) while the other bar leveraged against a plate under the cattle guard grate and pushed the hoof up.

What we were dealing with regarding the horse’s left legs.

The foreleg looks bad but the real challenge involved the hind which was jammed between the top metal strap and a T-plate under the grate. It was wedged tight.

We tried repositioning the horse to get a better angle but our range of motion was limited.

The horse would occasionally nibble on hay which seemed to help keep him calm. Nonetheless he would occasionally fuss and struggle.

A hail Mary effort. To see if the Hurst jaws would break the welds and give us that one inch of space we needed. Good effort but the tool didn’t budge the grate.

Things got a bit busy for pictures at this point. We decided to get the front leg free first. The risk was that the horse might try to get up and snap his hind leg. we maintained control of the front legs with webbing and finally was able to reposition the horse just enough to pry his hind hoof free.

A bit roughed up but free. Just before this picture was taken we dragged him clear of the grate, released the Becker sling strap, then methodically released each foreleg, head control and jacket that was used as a blinder.

After about a minute the horse simply got up…

… And he trotted away to join the other range horses.

We did learn one important thing from the recent incident. We need to deploy a trash pump to pump out a flooded cattle guard. Being able to see how the legs are bound up would be quite advantageous, plus icy water is not desirable to work in and it’s probably not all that good for the horse.


A response from Willis:

After posting incidents such as the cattle guard rescue, some side discussions typically start regarding sedation. When should you or should you not sedate? The answer is, “It depends.”

The textbook answer is, of course, “if in doubt, sedate,” and that’s a good base line to follow. In rescues involving domestic horses. Particularly if a horse has to be “packaged” onto a Rescue Glide for transport, sedation is an important practice.

But conversely, we also have to consider whether a horse can be safely approached to be sedated before extrication and also how a given horse will likely respond to sedation. Feral (wild) range horses and some more excitable domestics can behave unpredictably under sedation unless it is constantly managed. Also a horse that requires heavy doses of sedation can become extremely dangerous to itself and everyone around it when it comes-to and staggers around in an environment that isn’t properly managed.

I’m not suggesting that anyone not consider sedation. Our reality is just that with these range horses we only chemically sedate if they are being packaged for transport to veterinary care. What we do is we manage the energy at the scene, constantly read the horse’s response to our activities, control the head when we can, provide hay (a good “natural” calming substance) and allow the horse to remain calm as best we can.

Whether you are going to sedate a horse or you’re in a situation where it isn’t practical to do so, keeping the scene orderly, calm, “hysteria free,” and constantly observing the horse’s reaction to what is taking place can do a great deal towards a safe and successful outcome.

And everyone please remember: Even a properly sedated horse can unexpectedly flail with its legs and bite, so it’s important to maintain safety awareness at all times!


Click here to watch the video of the last few moments.

You can see here that the horse was very sensible.  He was totally strapped, the straps came off one by one and then he was free.  He looked around, got his bearings, was not fretful at all, stood and trotted off.


Click image to view the video.  This is a wild stallion who was not sedated.

All of the straps are off!

And there he goes!

NOVEMBER BUCKET FUND HORSES:  BONNIE AND CLYDE – Perfectly trained, sweet, polite – AND STARVED.  Click  here to read their story!

All Donations are 100% tax deductible!  We are 1/4 of the way there!  Please donate your Starbucks money, car seat change or any amount!  It all adds up!  Thank you!!!!


This is an awesome gift from!  They’ve ordered 200 calendars to gift to Horse and Man for the Bucket Fund.  If you purchase a calendar via this link, $10 will go towards the Bucket Fund directly!  Isn’t that incredible?  And, SHIPPING IS INCLUDED!

SO PLEASE, buy a few calendars and we will see a direct benefit in the Bucket!


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