Emergency Extraction of a HORSE from the HAYLOFT! (They cannot descend stairs…)

Several years ago, I wrote about BG getting herself caught in the hayloft in Grass Valley.  I again wrote about Wrigley and Charlotte locking themselves in the tack room (with the door shut) linked here.

Horses do amazing and frightening things… especially when food is involved.

This little lady (not mine) walked UP to the hayloft, but was not able to walk down.  Hence the story.  Thank you Little Fork Volunteer Technical Large Animal Rescue Team.  Bravo!

Oops. Maybe going up to the hayloft wasn’t such a good idea.



November 26, 2018 – At approximately 0940 hours the Little Fork Volunteer Technical Large Animal Rescue Team was dispatched to assist with extricating a horse that was found in a hayloft the night before in Page County Virginia. The owner researched Google and found Little Fork’s contact information. The evening before, “Holly”, a 12 YO Welsh Percheron cross, discovered that one of the other draft horses had pushed an obstacle aside and opened a barn door just wide enough for her to get through. She seized this opportunity to go up into the hayloft for a late evening snack. After going up the stairs she discovered she, like most horses, have poor depth perception and unless trained, cannot descend steps.

The owner contacted Little Fork and she was advised that the team would activate and begin the one hour drive to her location. She was also asked to have a vet on scene The owner had provided feed and water to Holly and she seemed to be content in her “she-shed”.

Our crew performed a scene size up and decided to call for assistance from the local fire crews and animal control officers. The call was made and the vet arrived and was briefed on what was needed. Soon assistance arrived from the following organizations: Luray Volunteer Fire Department and the Page County Sheriff’s Office.

Plan A was to rig our 10:1 pulley system to the Rescue Glide, placing Holly on it and lowering her down the stairs. This was done on a similar rescue of our first horse-in-a-hayloft call in Botetourt County, Virginia in 2016. However, this stairway was not as wide and had a 90 degree turn about six feet from the bottom (see pictures). If we used this, Holly would have to be heavily sedated for both her and our safety. There was also a risk of her becoming trapped in the turn.

Plan B was to remove the wall and build a ramp using 3/4″ plywood to slide Holly safely to the ground. We used chains and rope to set up a “dry run” to see how these plans worked. After doing this it was apparent that both had their problems.

We conferred with the vet and the Members from Luray who advised that they could obtain a telehandler from a nearby location. This machine was large enough to lower her to the ground. It could extend 30′ and lift 4,400 pounds. This became Plan C.

It was decided to use Plan C. The members from Luray contacted the owner/operator and arranged to have it report to the site. While waiting we removed the materials covering the opening to a second floor deck. The railing was removed to give the telehandler access to our Becker sling system. Holly was moved to the opening and sedation was administered. We placed the lifting straps on her and held them in place with clevis hooks and placed a head protector on her. Once done, Holly was moved onto the porch. The telehandler had been positioned with our spreader bar attached by chain to the bucket.

Holly was moved under the bucket and the slings were attached to the spreader bar. All of the rigging was checked and Holly was lifted about 4″ off the porch. A tag-line was attached to the rigging and was dropped down to the ground crew. All rigging was checked again by the Safety Officer and the removal began. Holly seemed apprehensive when she was moved off the porch and found herself 20′ off the ground, but she remained calm and was slowly lowered to the ground.

Once on the ground the Becker sling was removed and she walked away. SUCCESS !!!!

All of the crews worked together to stowe the gear and we returned home. We arrived back and had cleaned most of the equipment by 1500 hours.

We would like to thank Chief Lancaster and the 8 volunteers from the Luray Volunteer Fire Department; The Page County Sheriff’s Office; the vet Dr. Burke from Luray Clinic of Vet Medicine and Garrett Moyer owner/operator of the telehandler. Little Fork responded with four technicians on Equine 1209 and Rescue 1209.

Please visit our web site www.littleforkvfrc.org We operate from your donations!!

(PS:  This is something my horses would do… totally mess up the hay room, fill themselves up and then be like, Uh Oh… now what do I do?!…)

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