Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stuck horse freed from trees

2013-12-11 11.28.20

NIKE the horse slid downhill in the snow and wound up stuck in the fork of two trees. The rescue operation took two hours. Photo courtesy of Kathy Carpenter

From page A1 | December 20, 2013 | 18 Comments

Nike the horse was settling down in his normal spot for a nap at 10 a.m. on Dec. 11, after the snowstorm hit Placerville. Once asleep, the horse rolled over and slid down a snowy embankment, hitting trees. The horse had flipped upside down, headfirst, sliding into a group of six trees and getting his head caught. It would take a chainsaw and two hours to get the struggling horse free.

Chase McMillan, 14, heard the commotion and told his mother, Celeste, that something happened, said Kathy Carpenter, Nike’s owner. The McMillans investigated and saw the horse in distress. Celeste immediately called Carpenter. Carpenter, in turn, called Slate Creek Animal Hospital and her son, Sam. She was 15 minutes away, as was Sam.

She arrived at the McMillans’ ranch, 10 acres overlooking the American River Canyon towards Swansboro, and assessed the situation. Nike had turned into a “toboggan” and slid down 63 feet, Kathy Carpenter said. His neck was caught in the “V” between two trees, and being upside down — something horses are not used to — was lowering his blood pressure, affecting his lungs and brain. With the trees pressing into his neck, the horse was effectively being strangled.

Dr. Michael Russell, an equine veterinarian, and his assistant Calla Tindell arrived. “If Nike continued to thrash, there was the possibility for him to break his neck and or legs,” Carpenter said of the vet’s evaluation. “There was no way to lift, wench or pivot a 1,600-pound horse up and out of the life-threatening position he was in.”

Sam Carpenter arrived with his chainsaw. The horse’s legs were tied together with rope, his head fitted with a halter and lifted to alleviate the pressure and moved safely to side, and the work began. “Six persons, ropes, halter, chainsaws, hand saws, horse sedatives, blood, sweat, tears and a lot of praying” went into the effort, Kathy Carpenter said.

“It seemed like forever but was about two hours or so, and the tree trunk was cut almost all the way through,” she said. Using “brute strength,” Russell and Sam “manhandled the tree trunk until the last piece holding broke through. Nike’s breathing was more labored, he had blood in his mouth and his head had swelled.”

They began smacking the horse and yelling at him to wake up. Nike’s breathing was still labored.

“To all our amazement he was able to force himself against the remaining stump and twist his body up and to his feet with a whinny,” Kathy said, and “the other two horses who had been looking on answered back.” She said it was “just like the movies” and “a Christmas miracle.”

The horse was then treated for shock, dehydration and inflammation of the spinal cord, but managed to walk away with only cuts to his legs.

“It was a freaky, freak thing,” Carpenter said. She thanked her son Sam, the McMillans, Russell and Tindell. “Nike would not be here today if it wasn’t for each and every one of you.”


Discussion | 18 comments

  • robertdnollDecember 19, 2013 - 6:23 pm

    good job

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  • Denise LonglandDecember 20, 2013 - 10:58 am

    I fell your pain I had to do the same thing with my horse!!!!!

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  • Denise LonglandDecember 20, 2013 - 10:59 am

    It is amazing what they can endure and still walk away.

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  • MandyDecember 20, 2013 - 11:38 am

    So glad he was ok. Im sure nerves was tore up because i know mine would had been.

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  • Barbara MilesDecember 20, 2013 - 12:49 pm

    What a terrible thing to happen but what a Blessing that you had the help you needed to rescue him and that he is ok ...

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  • amy cotaDecember 20, 2013 - 1:02 pm

    What a scare! So glad you had these wonderful people to help you and him!

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  • julieDecember 20, 2013 - 1:55 pm

    they should put a good fence up to stop this happening again

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  • Debra HarmerDecember 20, 2013 - 3:21 pm

    I am so happy that you had this good outcome, this was truly a happy ending to Nicke's rescue!

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  • Tracey WilcoxDecember 20, 2013 - 3:23 pm

    I had a stallion Get caught between a railroad tie fence post and the barn when the fire department showed up to do free him after hours of trying they put a blanket over his head to chain saw the post away and says they did that he jerked his head out and was straight up and down..but when I first found them is head was in the straight up in the air right side up visions and his feet were straight up in the air

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  • K. HuffDecember 20, 2013 - 3:42 pm

    Yeah because no 1600 pound horse ever slid through a fence before. SMH!!!! They did a great job mitigating the risk in a dangerous situation and rescuing this obviously well loved family member. Everyone was an important member of this team!!! Great Work!!!!

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  • kennyDecember 20, 2013 - 4:02 pm

    Had a lot of horse,s 26 at a time you will save some you will lose some Thank goodness you won this time may he live to be 50.

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  • LyndaDecember 20, 2013 - 6:27 pm

    So happy you had a happy ending. I lost my mare to a freak tree accident. She was running in her pasture and ran into a low slung Oak branch. She snapped her neck and died instantly. She was 28 and perfectly sound. We live in northern Santa Barbara County.

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  • Teresa CichonDecember 20, 2013 - 6:30 pm

    Oh. God blessed nike. I am so sorry that he had to endure this. He was probably so scared. It is awesome that he has people that care enough about him to go through all of that. I am both amazed and thankful that Nike has survived. Let's give that boy some treats!

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  • Debra CDecember 20, 2013 - 8:38 pm

    So very happy thanks for sharing you" re story with us.God was with all of you.Great ending.

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  • Sara GerholdDecember 20, 2013 - 10:21 pm

    I'm glad that he was freed and had so few ill effects.

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  • TracyDecember 21, 2013 - 1:40 am

    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful and inspiring story.

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  • kvanceDecember 21, 2013 - 8:57 am


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  • Kathy Y.December 22, 2013 - 4:27 pm

    How scary! Glad it all turned out ok.

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