Crews work hours to rescue horse after deadly fall down ravine

WILDWOOD, MO  - It took hours of patience and a lot of teamwork to save a life in Wildwood. Just after 8am MERS Large Animal Rescue responded to a horse in grave danger.  The horse fell about 25 feet into a narrow ravine and was inches from another deadly fall. With the help of Monarch Fire and Ambulance it took about five hours for the team to pull Memo to safety.

A veterinarian came to check out Memo and said he would be fine after a few treats and some rest.  Unfortunately the horse died Tuesday.

The Monarch Fire Protection District trained Tuesday after rescuing the horse. They want to make sure they`re ready for every emergency situation. They practiced with the same type of equipment used in Tuesday's rescue.  It was one of the most difficult rescues they've had in years.

MERS Large Animal Rescue posted this report to their Facebook page:

"This was a tough one. At approximately 8:15 am on Monday, June 5, MERS Large Animal Rescue put a call out to the team for a rescue in Wildwood, MO for a horse down in a ravine. It was listed as an emergency because the horse was in such a position that if he moved the wrong way, he was dropping around 25 feet straight down into deadfall.

We rolled in less than 30 minutes and arrived shortly after 9am. We found a gelding, named Memo, between 1-2 yrs old about 25 feet down a narrow ravine, lying flat with his front legs under his body and his back legs wrapped in vines. His butt was pressed against the only thing keeping him from dropping down into the deadfall, a tree that had fallen in the storm.

Our first priority (after suggesting PPE) was to secure the horse so he did not fall further. In this rescue, the head protector was next to useless as it came off repeatedly (we miss our old one because that sucker stayed on). A forward assist with a choker was anchored to a tree to keep him in place. The challenge at that point was to get him up and out. He couldn't walk. He couldn't go up the way he came because it was too narrow for the glide. Up and over the hill was the only option (btw, he was sedated regularly through this to minimize risk because there just wasn't much room to work).

We called Monarch Fire District for help. The steep hill and torrential rain made our Polaris useless to pull anything and we needed some people to make up for what we were now lacking in mechanical power. FD and EMS arrived and after briefing them on the plan, they hooked our ropes up to the fire truck about 300 feet up the hill.

Several attempts were made to get a glide under him but proved fruitless due to his positioning. With the pressing need to get him out of imminent danger, we lifted him using a pulley system and what straps we could get around him and began to pull him up the hill slowly. However, Memo had other ideas and blew up just in the perfect way to flip himself to the other side. The choker strap did its job and held him from going down the hill further though. After a quick vet check, he was pulled up and over the first challenge.

The next challenge was getting him out of the slightly shallower ravine. A change of direction and we were able to get him up on the glide and up to a flat grassy spot. At this point we are at around 1:30pm. Another adjustment (or three) to the ropes and we got him up the hill to the Polaris where he was rushed to the arena for fluids and vet care. Several of our members experienced heat exhaustion (90* in a buggy damp area with PPE is trying) and were immensely grateful for EMS on scene.

Ah, but it's not over. Memo was unable or unwilling to stand (he apparently loves laying down so it was hard to tell) so we attempted a manual lift. He made no effort so we set up the A frame and attempted several lifts between bags of fluids. He liked to buck like a bronco but refused to stand.

It was decided by the vet team that rest and fluids would be the best thing for him so we packed up, thanked all our new friends at Monarch for their help (wouldn't have been possible without them!). Memo was snoring when we took our equipment out and was up sternal drinking water and munching treats when we left. The call out ended at 4:50pm.

Thank you to Homestead Vet, Monarch Fire and Ambulance District, the owner (who fed us an amazing spread), the barn staff and our very exhausted members for help on this rescue. It was one for the books.

An obvious note but do not try this at home. This used just about every piece of rescue equipment we have , skills we attained through hundreds of rescues (two of which were ravines) and very technical trainings that we have every other month with our members. Oddly, our last two trainings have involved difficult ravine rescues because we had not had a rescue like that in a while.