Rescuers use their horse sense
Post Independent Staff
RIFLE ” Quick action and teamwork between the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department, the Rifle Fire Department, concerned neighbors, a veterinarian, a horseshoer and a brand inspector helped free a horse from a potentially fatal accident.
Dr. Elizabeth Chandler, a large-animal veterinarian from New Castle, received a call on Saturday from Garfield County Sheriff dispatch.
Realtor Debbie Sanderson was showing some property on the JQS Trail north of Rifle when she came across a horse in trouble, so she called dispatch.
“The horse had got its leg caught in a cattle guard about a mile up the JQS Trail, and had ripped an entire metal section ” three bars wide and about six feet long ” from the rest of the guard,” explained Dr. Chandler. “The horse had this lethal weapon connected to its leg. He could whip the thing around.”
Greg and Teresa Wright, who live close by, brought grain and a halter for the horse. To make matters more challenging, the animal was a bucking horse that had never been broke, but Teresa was able to calm the horse enough to get the halter on.
By the time Dr. Chandler arrived on the scene, Eric Brors and Donivan Livingston of the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department had responded. Besides Dr. Chandler, they had contacted brand inspector Mike Walck. Farrier Gary Hosa just happened to be shoeing some of Walck’s horses at the time the call came in, so he came along, too.
“What was neat about this was that the sheriff’s department got the people there who could help,” Dr. Chandler said. “Everybody did the job they knew best.”
Officer Brors said he had witnessed another horse get its foot caught in a cattle guard a couple of years ago. That horse had to be put down.
“I didn’t want to see that happen again,” said Brors, so he started thinking about ways to get the grate off this horse’s leg, and remembered the Jaws of Life, the hydraulic mechanism used to extract people from vehicles after car accidents. That prompted a call to the Rifle Fire Department.
Dr. Chandler tranquilized the animal as two firefighters from the Rifle Fire Department arrived.
As Hosa properly positioned the horse’s foot, and with Walck’s help steadying the animal, firefighters used the Jaws of Life to pry the metal grating off the horse’s leg.
Dr. Chandler said over the years she and Walck have collectively seen a number of horses with their legs caught in cattle guards. This was the only time they’ve ever had a positive outcome, she said.
The horse’s owner, Bo Rohrig, arrived on horseback shortly after the horse was freed. Officer Brors said Rohrig had discovered that the horse had gotten out, and he had tracked him to the JQS Trail.
“The horse was alert,” Dr. Chandler said. The horse did receive some surface cuts on his legs but was otherwise injury-free and walked down from the scene of the accident. “If people around him hadn’t been calm, cool and reasonable, we likely wouldn’t have had a happy ending to this story.”
“My hat’s off to the Garfield County Sheriff’s office,” Dr. Chandler said. “They really did a fantastic job. They called in experts who knew what to do.”
Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518
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