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Human Power Pulls 1,800-Pound Horse From Mud and Ice

The rescue was a two-hour struggle.

Moonshine rescue. Courtesy Hamilton Fire.
Moonshine rescue. Courtesy Hamilton Fire.

A two-hour horse ordeal came to a successful end about 2:30 Saturday afternoon with the rescue of an 1,800-pound horse stuck in mud and ice to her neck.

"Moonshine" is now recuperating and receiving care in a heated barn, said Hamilton Fire Deputy Chief Kirby Brand.

The rescue started after a 911 call at 12:30 p.m. from a person walking in a nearby driveway. The walker saw the distressed animal in mud and ice about 200 feet off the beaten track.

Rescue workers relied on human power to pull Moonshine to safety, an operation that lasted two hours.

Below is Deputy Chief Brand's account of the incident and response:

Approximately 1230 hours today, January 25, 2014 Hamilton Public Safety was notified of a horse that had fallen through the ice at Devon Glen Farm on Bay Road in Hamilton. On the arrival of the 1st Engine Company and the Hamilton Police they discovered a horse approximately 200 feet across an icy field buried up to her neck in a swamp of mud and ice.  Work was immediately started to keep the animals head from going under. 

The horse was pinned under the ice by her front legs and the mud created a vacuum holding her down.  Straps were used to keep the animal from sinking further into the “quicksand” type environment. Firefighters entered the water in survival suits to remove the ice and mud from around the animal. After several attempts rescue slings were placed under the horse. Due to the remote location of the rescue, we were unable to get heavy equipment close enough to be useful. All “hands on” resources were coordinated and with the help of the horse she was manually hoisted up and successfully extricated. The extrication was completed in just over 2 hours. 

Thanks to the veterinarians on scene she was stabilized and after a few attempts “Moonshine” stood up on her own and was led to a heated barn. She was examined and found to be slightly hypothermic from her immersion. Warmed IV fluids were administered and at last report the horse was doing well.

All of the Hamilton Fire Department resources were dispatched to the scene with the Hamilton Police; additional assistance was summoned from the Wenham and Topsfield Fire Departments, Essex County Technical Rescue team, Beauport ambulance, The FEMA Task Force Commander and Rehab 5 for their services.  Thanks to Dodge Tree Service of Hamilton for dispatching their crane to the scene as well to G & J Towing of Revere that supplied a heavy wrecker to assist with operations. Manchester and Essex Fire Departments provided station coverage during the rescue.



Jeff Tripp January 26, 2014 at 11:18 PM
Congratulations on a job well done.
Vince Noble January 27, 2014 at 03:23 PM
Our hats are off to all of the firefighters, police, EMS/Ambulance workers, Tow truck drivers, Tree Service Professionals, Vets, Caring Privates Citizens and anyone else who contributed to the rescue of Moonshine. GOD Bless you. From Kentucky (the Bluegrass State) where we know a thing or two about Horses AND Moonshine.
Brea Houston January 27, 2014 at 04:31 PM
Wow! What a wonderful bunch of people! Even a tree service got involved! Wonderful to know there are so many caring people still out there.
Kathy Doane January 27, 2014 at 04:39 PM
Great story of people coming together. That barn had nicer windows than my home though! My horses would love to live in a barn like that! LOL
Pat January 28, 2014 at 10:19 AM
Thank God. Thank you all for rescuing one of God's creatures and not just leaving Moonshine.
Lori January 28, 2014 at 10:32 AM
Thank you rescuers!
tojo January 28, 2014 at 01:21 PM
That's the difference between people in Mass and the selfish scum in New Jersey, where the fire guys said it was too dangerous to rescue a dog in the icy pond, so 2 regular guys showed the cowards how to do it. It's, "Time to take America back from the idiots."
warren blum January 29, 2014 at 11:36 AM
well done and a hat's off to all the fine people who saved this animal.
Southpaw January 29, 2014 at 01:36 PM
2 hours....Kudos to all who rescued Moonshine. What a feat! So glad she's OK. Horses...one of life's beautiful creations.
Peg Lyons January 29, 2014 at 02:21 PM
Thanks to ALL who participated in saving this glorious horse Moonshine! I have to repeat a thought from the message above. . ."Horses. . .one of life's beautiful creations." Seeing Moonshine walk to the barn was a heartwarming sight!
Scott Wilson January 29, 2014 at 07:09 PM
I`M SURE GLAD THE HORSE IS O.K. HE BETTER WATCH MORE CLOSELY; POOR THING...........
Tim Bramlett January 30, 2014 at 09:16 PM
Next time call a cowboy, it won't take dozens of emergency service workers to get the job done!
Carole Ney January 30, 2014 at 09:58 PM
Great story! We owe animals so much!
Sharon Ashe January 30, 2014 at 10:30 PM
Just wondering how it is that the horse got access to that dangerous situation. Broke through a fence? Accidents do happen, but they should also be anticipated. Fences aren't fool proof, I understand. But it makes no sense to leave a horse in an area where he or she would fall through ice or get stuck in mud like this. Fortunately, the story has a happy ending thanks to the help of many kind people. Note to self, anticipate that a horse will do stupid things, especially in the winter. Anticipate and remove hazardous situations.
pat January 30, 2014 at 11:23 PM
I don't know a cowboy strong enough to do this job alone, do you?
Eric Graff January 31, 2014 at 06:07 AM
Union members GET THE JOB DONE 'nuff said, good job guys!
Ken January 31, 2014 at 04:46 PM
Thank You Moonshine for taking the time and risk to show us that some of mankind still has a heart. Now don't do that again you got your point accross.
Ken January 31, 2014 at 05:08 PM
Some things can be learned from your Grandfather. I was raised in Michigan on the Great Lakes. Lake St. Clair which is bordered on two sides by two different countries. USA on one side and Canada on the other. Back during my Grandfathers day they would take wagon loads of straw accross the frozen lake in to Canada to be used on the mud roads to stop peoples carriages from getting stuck in the muddy roads. Occasionally a horse and wagon full of straw would fall thru the ice. So since there was no cranes or tow trucks back then they used a simple method to save the horse. First you unhitch the wagon from the horse. Then you tie a rope around the horses neck and choke it for about a half a minute. Then release the rope and the horse would take a large gasp of air to continue living. Then once again quickly you tighten the rope around the horses throat not allowing the horse to exhale. This simple process would cause the horse to float to the top on it's side. then another rope was attached around the horse and he was easily pulled up and out of the water onto the ice by another horse. Unfortunately the wagon and load of straw usually was lost but the horse was saved within minutes of falling thru the ice in to the frigid waters. I learned a lot from my Grandfather and also my Grandmother. And thats probably why God put Grandparents on this earth.

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