Neighbors rescue horse from lake after it fell through ice

Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 4:46 AM CST
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GRANTSBURG, Wis. (WCCO) - A horse in Wisconsin owes its life to some neighbors who sprang into action when it got into trouble on Sunday.

The animal had fallen through ice on a frozen lake, and rescuers had to think fast to get him to safety.

At Big Wood Lake, because of the fresh snow, you can’t see the horse’s tracks.

But what you can see, all the footprints from the people who came to his rescue and a flat area where the horse was dragged to shore150 yards from where he fell in the ice.

The place is known for its bass fishing, but there’s never been a catch like this: a 1,200-pound mustang who wandered nearly six miles from his home barn.

The horse got out of his pen Saturday night, when a snow-covered tree fell and broke the fence.

“It was nerve-wracking,” said D.J. Ryan, who was among the first responders. No, he’s not an actual first responder, but in this small town, news travels fast.

“We were able to see him bobbing and struggling,” Ryan said. “It was just calling a bunch of mutual friends and horse people around the area, and I knew someone was going to know someone who had a warm safe place we could house (it) if it was successful and it was.”

It was successful, but not without added stress. The temperature was -5 degrees, the ice only four inches thick.

That meant the towing company could not bring out heavy equipment, so rescuers settled for rope and nylon straps.

“The hardest part was rigging the horse so we could safely pull it. We knew we couldn’t pull the horse out by its neck or by its halter,” said Karl Anderson, towing truck driver.

Well, they got him, and he’s now recuperating at the vet. The horse suffered from hypothermia during the ordeal.

Ryan also gave the horse a new name.

“We named him Jack out here from “Titanic.” We’ll never let go of Jack. We didn’t. We held on to him the whole way!” he said.