Horse 'comfortable in a stall' after pool rescue

Saturday, December 21, 2013 | 10:10 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Hershey had quite the adventure, and his owner had quite the scare.

Melody Whitworth's horse was rescued Friday night after falling into a pool on her neighbor's Hallsville property, where Whitworth was boarding her three horses.

"It feels like I just watched a bad movie or something," she said after the gelding was pulled from the pool. "It's kind of surreal."

As Whitworth was boarding up her horses for the night, Hershey ran through a portion of the boards and broke through the barn. Another horse followed, but Whitworth, who was there alone, was able to get ahold of that animal.

"All of a sudden, I heard this very strange noise … and noticed the horse fell through the tarp of the pool," said Whitworth, a Missouri representative for Dogs Deserve Better and publisher of Pet Project Magazine.

Hershey's hoof went through the pool cover, and his leg got caught on it. It was a black tarp, and the horse probably didn't see it in the dark, said Whitworth, who promptly called 911 and a veterinarian. 

The Boone County Fire Protection District responded to the property, at 8200 Highway HH East,  just after 7 p.m., Battalion Chief Gale Blomenkamp said. Equine Medical Services of Columbia also arrived, Whitworth said.

Rescuers wrapped the fire hose around the horse. 

"They used that to hoist his head up," Whitworth said.

Crews cut the remaining straps that held the tarp in place and used the tarp to guide Hershey to the shallow end, where he was able to walk up the pool's stairs.

"It was definitely a traumatic experience," Whitworth said. She had feared Hershey would suffer a broken leg or severe hypothermia. Temperatures were in the high 20s Friday night as mid-Missouri braced for a winter storm.

The horse, who had been in the water for 30 to 40 minutes, was cold but was doing well, Blomenkamp said Friday night.

Hershey had some abrasions on his legs, his owner said, and after Dr. Hunter Ortis of Equine Medical Services treated him for hypothermia, his temperature returned to normal.

"He's now comfortable in a stall," said Whitworth, adding that she was pleased with authorities' quick response.

"A bad situation turned out good," she said — for the horse, not the pool.

"The cover of the pool didn't fare so well."

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