Stuck horse rescued from local swimming pool / Photo by Jeff Taylor, Brevard County Fire Rescue / from Florida Today
From Florida Today
Specially trained firefighters rescued a former racehorse that went for an inadvertent five-hour swim Tuesday afternoon near Melbourne.
It was the second situation in as many days in which a horse took an impromptu dip in Brevard County.
On Monday, a man was riding his horse west of Port St. John when it somehow meandered into a pond and drowned.
But on Tuesday, a Brevard County Fire-Rescue official credited a skilled force with saving a 6-year-old stallion.
About 1:30 p.m., the brown horse wandered toward a screened-in pool behind a home in the 4300 block of Pinewood Drive.
The home is in a neighborhood near Aurora Road and John Rodes Boulevard that is populated with equestrian estates.
At the time, three teenage boys were swimming in the pool.
"One of the horses from the pasture was able to nose his way into the pool enclosure through a slightly ajar door," said Lt. Jeff Taylor, fire-rescue spokesman. "The boys tried to lead it away, but it got spooked."
Standing on a 5-foot-wide patio space between the door and the pool's edge, the agitated horse backed up and fell into the water.
The boys and the homeowner tried to coerce the creature up the pool's stairway, Taylor said. But their efforts failed, so they called a veterinarian and 9-1-1.
Three county firefighters who had taken an animal-rescue course happened to be available. This Viera-based "special ops" team called in a wrecker, Taylor said.
"Several attempts were made to have the horse come up on its own," Taylor said. "But they realized it wasn't going to cooperate, and they had to sedate the horse."
Firefighters dismantled a portion of the screen and brought in a tow truck typically used to haul disabled fire engines. They placed straps under the belly of the 7-foot-tall, 1,500-pound horse and used the truck as an improvised crane to lift the animal from the water at 6:48 p.m.
The vet worried that stress from being in the water for five hours, along with potential hypothermia, could cause latent affects in the animal.
"Once the horse was on dry land, the veterinarian assessed it," Taylor said. "It didn't appear to have any injuries, but the next 24 hours will be key."
On Monday, a rider and his Clydesdale fell into the water at Fay Lake Wilderness Park. But rescuers were unable to arrive before it drowned.
Eight county firefighters have taken a special course sponsored by the Brevard Zoo. During the 40-hour training, the firefighters and personnel from Disney's Animal Kingdom practiced caring for and hoisting zoo animals, including a llama, two horses and a rhinoceros.
Taylor said that it's one of the only groups in Central Florida qualified to handle such tasks, mainly because the training is expensive.
"Obviously, this wasn't the run-of-the-mill fire-rescue call," Taylor said. "But you can never train or prepare too much because you never know what the next call will be."