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Horse Rescue Tribune Article

Horse that fell down Penn Township hill saved

By Mary Pickels
Thursday, July 7, 2011

Higgins the horse was hitched up on Tuesday, but not in a typical harness.

Rescuers were summoned to assist the 31-year-old animal, which fell more than 100 feet down a hillside near his Penn Township pasture.

Rescuers called in heavy equipment when a tractor could not haul Higgins to his feet.

On Wednesday, the horse was back in his barn, eating and drinking, his owner said.

"It seems to be going well. He's a little sore and stiff," said Edward Campbell, who owns C Horse Farms on Richmond Road.

Penn Township Ambulance Association, Westmoreland County Animal Response Team, Harrison City Volunteer Fire Department, Mangery & Sons Inc. of Penn and a veterinarian helped at the boarding farm Tuesday afternoon.

"We started to bring some of the horses in (Tuesday), and he was missing. We saw him at 2:30 p.m. At 3:30 p.m. he was missing. We found him at 4 p.m., lying on his side," Campbell said.

"He apparently lost his footing near a steep drop-off and fell onto his side," said Edgar Grant, ambulance association supervisor.

"We did not have the right tools for such a large animal. We contacted the animal-response team (CART)," he said. "He really was not able to get up. It was a combination of his age and the hillside."

CART took a harness to the scene, and Mangery & Sons provided an off-road forklift and labor.

"It was a first for me," said Frank Mangery Jr. "(Westmoreland) 911 called and said: 'We have a horse over a hill.' I thought they meant a horse trailer."

"It was a hot day. You could just tell that horse was spent," he said.

"We just received a new piece of equipment -- a Becker Sling, which is made for in-field rescue. It got christened (Tuesday)," said Lori Mozina-Ogurchak, coordinator of CART.

After the sling was attached, a bar was hooked onto the forklift and Higgins rose to his feet.

"You could tell he did not want to put weight on his legs," Mozina-Ogurchak said.

A former competitor with the American Quarter Horse Association, Higgins retired to Edward and Christine Campbell's farm 16 years ago. The horse has some arthritis in his legs, his owners said.

Veterinarian Brian Burks from the Fox Run Equine Center in Washington Township helped at the scene. A veterinary team massaged Higgins' legs. After about 20 minutes, he was ready to walk.

"It was assisted walking," Mozina-Ogurchak said.

The forklift held the crane in place to support the horse until he made it uphill and near the barn. By 6:30 p.m., Higgins was home.

"It was a big team effort," Mozina-Ogurchak said.

Higgins sustained no serious injuries, Burks said.

"He didn't struggle. I think he was exhausted. Plus, he is a docile and good-natured horse," the veterinarian said.

The horse was given electrolytes and medications.

"We're all happy Mr. Higgins is up and doing well," Dr. Burks said.

Read more: Horse that fell down Penn Township hill saved - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review