With the help of a vet, firefighters lifted 16-year-old back on to her feet
By Terri Rozzini
On May 22, I received a call for help from Velma, who is a friend and neighbor in our Gold Canyon neighborhood.
Her horse, Lucy, had been down for more than 6 hours and couldn’t get up. Velma and her husband, Curtis, had tried everything they could think of, and even though she struggled to rise, she still could not stand.
Lucy is a big 16-year-old Draft and American Quarter Horse cross and a much loved family member to Velma and Curtis. She had Lyme Disease several years ago, and as a result, she lacks normal strength in her right hind leg. When she lies down, she needs to have her “good” left hind leg underneath her so that she can use it to support her weight when rising.
When I got to Velma’s house, I found Lucy lying quietly on her right side against the fence, which, for Lucy, is the worst possible position for her to be in. I raised her head to see if she would sit up, but she immediately put it back down. She seemed to have given up. It did not look good for Lucy. Velma called her veterinarian, Dr. Susan Roach, and explained the situation. They discussed the possibility of euthanasia, because a horse that is down for an extended period of time cannot survive. Dr. Roach was working on another emergency call and could not get to Lucy for at least another hour. Needless to say, we were all very upset at the prospect of losing this sweet mare.
So, while waiting for the vet, we tried a few more tactics to induce her to get up. Some horses are afraid of clippers, so Velma tried putting them near her ears…she didn’t care. We yelled and waved things at her…nothing. Finally, we physically picked up her head and got her to partially sit up. Curtis then placed 3 bales of hay next to her to prop her up. She stayed that way for awhile, and even began eating grain that we moistened in an effort to keep her hydrated.
While sitting and feeding her, I noticed that she really was eating eagerly and maybe hadn’t given up, but was simply waiting for someone to help turn her over so she could rise.
I suggested that we call Superstition Fire & Medical District (SFMD). They would have the manpower to first move and then turn this 1,200-pound horse. I put in a call to them, and within minutes, 12 firefighters were on the scene, ready to help.
By this time, Dr. Roach had also arrived and determined that Lucy would have to be rolled over so that she could use her good hind leg to rise. So, with the help of visual aids on her laptop, she gave a 20-minute tutorial to the firefighters on how to apply ropes to turn a horse correctly, avoiding injury to the animal. The guys then retrieved fire hoses from their trucks and went to work wrapping them around, under and over Lucy. Then together, using a massive effort, they were able to move her to the center of the pen, away from the fence.
Now she was ready to be flipped. On cue from Dr. Roach, all 12 firefighters put their training into action and were able to turn her over. Through all of this, Lucy remained calm and cooperative, which was remarkable, considering that horses are flight-type animals and are prone to panic.
After letting Lucy rest for awhile, it was time to see if we could get her to stand. With Dr. Roach at her head and the firefighters all around her, everyone lifted, pushed, yelled, slapped and screamed at her to GET UP!
She scrambled and wobbled quite a bit, but finally was able to stand.
Although stiff and sore from being down for so long, she was able to walk a bit and then began eating and drinking. And today, she is still doing well.
Without the help of the firefighters of Superstition Fire and Medical, Lucy would not be here today. Many thanks to the guys from “C” Shift, Stations 262, 264 and 265. These men are true heroes. Thank you for saving Lucy!