Horse rescued from drainage ditch in Santa Clara County

- By Bay City News Service 

A horse rescued by multiple fire crews on Sunday night in unincorporated Santa Clara County is doing just fine, the owner told county fire officials.

A call to Cal Fire around 6 p.m. from someone at Indian Hills Ranch just outside Milpitas alerted responders that the animal was stuck upside down in a drainage ditch, according to Santa Clara County Fire Capt. Bill Murphy.

Murphy said Cal Fire firefighters and Spring Valley Volunteer Fire Department crews arrived on scene and knew they needed to call in county firefighters and their specialized equipment for backup.

The county fire department was called at 6:19 p.m. for assistance, and because they were hauling extensive equipment, it took about 45 minutes for them to arrive, Murphy said.

Murphy said the horse was lucky to be able to walk back to the fenced-in area it had gotten out of with no assistance and only minor scrapes, since horses are often described as "prey animals" who have a fight or flight tendency that can scare them into much worse.

The fire captain described the drainage ditch as "having a little bit of debris and being undermined by recent storms."

Because of this, firefighters believed that the horse had gotten itself stuck, tried to shimmy out and wedged itself deeper underneath a portion of the ditch.

"Horses tend to be anxious, their bodies are not designed to handle being upside down for as long as it was," Murphy said.

Crews were on scene until about 10 p.m. after they were able to use rescue guides, or slip sheets, which are sheets of plastic used to slide a large animal along a rough surface in order to get the horse out, fire officials said.

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