A horse that found itself stuck in a muddy situation is high and dry now.
Shortly before 10 a.m. July 31, multiple firefighters with the Saanich Fire Department responded to an area near Interurban Road after someone called to report that a horse — named Gecko — needed rescuing.
It turns out, Gecko had wandered into a muddy bog portion of the property and got stuck.
“[Gecko] was stuck in there pretty good. It had been there for several minutes, if not longer before we got on scene,” Robert Heppell, deputy assistant chief with the Saanich Fire Department, told CHEK News on Saturday.
Heppell said it took rescuers a bit of time to actually reach Gecko because of the location.
“It was fairly difficult to access because it was on a large piece of property that had a couple of difficult access points,” he said. “So when crews were arriving and transporting their equipment, it took a few minutes. Thankfully, the owner stayed with the animal.”
The first thing rescuers did once they reached Gecko was to put a wooden pallet underneath his head in an effort to keep it above water.
The next objective for rescuers was figuring out how to get a trapped horse weighing anywhere from 700 to 1,200 pounds out of the muddy water. Crews ultimately decided to create two separate slings that were fashioned out of two and a half-inch fire hose lines — a process that took about an hour.
“Our guys are pretty resourceful and they are used to working with mechanical advantage systems for doing things like technical rescues and things like that,” said Heppell.
“This was obviously something a little bit more simple than doing a technical rescue on a high angle slope or on a tower crane or something like that. But, certainly, there is a degree of danger and difficulty when you are dealing with a large animal that is distress.”
Throughout the entire ordeal, Heppell said Gecko was calm and “quite exhausted,” which only made the job easier for rescuers.
“To try to move a large animal like that when they are kicking and fighting is even more challenging,” he said. “You got to stay away from the back end of a horse. That’s the business end. Fortunately, the owner was very helpful in keeping the crews away from the area where the horse was likely to kick.”
Once the slings were fashioned securely around Gecko, more than 10 rescuers ended up pulling him out of the muddy water.
“It took a lot of bodies to move that much muscle,” Heppell recalled.
Despite being stuck in the mud for more than an hour, Gecko was unharmed.
“He quickly recovered and was on his feet within a few minutes with no injuries,” said Heppell. “It was great to see.”
This isn’t the first time crews have been called out to rescue a horse, according to Heppell.
“I’ve been on a couple myself but it is not a common thing by any means, fortunately,” he said.