After the ground gave way beneath him, a horse named Nemo required the help of volunteer firefighters and a crane to free him from a sinkhole on Day Road.
On Nov. 10, Sarah Marshall and Emily Jaschinski were out for a trail ride in Roberts Creek when the 10-year-old thoroughbred’s rear right leg became stuck in a three-foot-wide, eight-foot-deep sinkhole. Marshall, who was riding Nemo at the time, fell off but was not injured.
It took an hour and a half to free the stressed horse, Jackie Cross, whose daughter Kerri is Nemo’s owner, told Coast Reporter, because the animal had to be lifted straight up so as not to break his leg. Such an injury is usually fatal for horses, she said. While they waited, no one knew whether Nemo was injured.
Weighing in at around 1,300 pounds, Nemo needed some extra help to be extracted.
When the Roberts Creek Volunteer Fire Department got the call from dispatch, Roberts Creek’s Fire Chief Patrick Higgins made sure someone from the local horse community would also be at the scene to provide guidance.
“[It’s] obviously not something that firefighters are generally trained for,” Higgins said.
For the Roberts Creek volunteers, it was the second incident involving a horse this year, and the only two Higgins has been involved in during his time with the department. Upon arriving at Day Road, he was concerned not only for the horse’s safety, but also for the safety of the volunteers around the spooked animal.
They kept their distance, and were able to get the strap of a makeshift harness under the horse.
Randy Benner, a member of the Sechelt Volunteer Fire Department, brought a crane borrowed from Rona and the volunteers helped lift the horse out of the hole. Once he was out, Nemo walked home “like nothing happened” and is reported to be perfectly fine since the incident.
Rescues like this are very rare, Cross said, and her family was thankful for the help.
“We live in a community where we don’t have access to a large animal veterinarian without getting on the ferry, so when something does go wrong with these animals it is heartwarming how it brings everyone together to help,” Cross said.