Horse hauled out of Maple Ridge ditch

It shivered in the cold water as firefighters prepared to drag her out.

Maple Ridge firefighters help out a local ranch on 216th Street Tuesday morning after a young horse fell into a deep ditch. The animal was in the water for at least an hour. Firefighters hoisted out the animal with slings.

Maple Ridge firefighters help out a local ranch on 216th Street Tuesday morning after a young horse fell into a deep ditch. The animal was in the water for at least an hour. Firefighters hoisted out the animal with slings.

You can’t blame youthful inexperience for Shasta falling into a ditch beside 216th Street in Maple Ridge and requiring the help of 10 firefighters to get her out.

The Arabian horse is actually 45 years old and, despite her years, fell into a ditch about 11 a.m. Tuesday, after making her way out of a nearby paddock.

Neighbour Jessica Marquis, of Marquis Equestrian, was nearby and saw Shasta’s owner waving at her.

“I was out riding and I noticed the owner was frantically running back and forth.”

People from her ranch brought some poles and plywood while Maple Ridge firefighters waded into the ditch and put a sling around the shivering horse.

After about an hour, the brush was cleared away, a ramp was made and the horse was slowly dragged out of the ditch.

Shasta still had to be hauled to her barn with a tractor, but within an hour or two she was standing. “She’s in the barn recovering,” said Marquis.

“Those guys did a great job,” she added of the firefighters.

Deputy Maple Ridge fire chief Howard Exner said the effort took about an hour. The fire department has two types of slings for animal rescue, one for dragging an animal out and the other for lifting an animal out.

Shasta’s relatively small size made it easier to get her out of the ditch.

“They were able to manipulate the horse fairly quickly and fairly easily.”

Exner said firefighters practise animal rescue and probably save about four or five horses a year.

Firefighters now have a better way of training thanks to a horse mannequin that can be used in rescue practice. The Horse Council of B.C. bought the $20,000 mannequin and is storing it at Maple Ridge’s Fire Hall No. 1.

“We can use if for practice, as can any fire department in the province.”