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Chopper, vets, firefighters to horse rescue

Chopper, vets, firefighters to horse rescue

PALMERSTON NORTH – A 27-year-old horse was airlifted by helicopter after it fell down a hill on a farm near Palmerston North last night.

Massey University veterinarians and the Fire Service were called to the Harrison Hill Rd farm after the owners discovered “Amagh” had slipped or fallen several metres into a slip containing gorse.

Owner Sue Leathwick says Amagh was trapped on his back and completely exhausted when they found him this morning.

“We couldn’t move him and we thought he may have broken something so we called the Massey vets and the Fire Service,” Mrs Leathwick says.

Dr Kirstie Dacre, a senior lecturer in equine medicine at the Institute of Veterinary Animal and Biomedical Sciences, says if Amagh had not been caught up in the gorse he could have tumbled or slipped a lot further.

“Being on its back is not a good position for a horse to be in,” Dr Dacre says.

“We checked for broken bones but he didn’t appear too have any. Amagh was dehydrated so we sedated him and administered fluids into the vein as well as painkillers.”
Massey has a special large animal lift sling designed at The University of California, Davis, which was attached to Amagh and using a four-wheel drive and a rope the rescuers were able to get the horse into a sitting position.

Mrs Leathwick says by then Amagh was completely exhausted and was obviously not going to be able to get to his feet, so a Helipro helicopter was called in to airlift him back up the hill and onto his feet.

Dr Dacre says Amagh will spend the night at the Massey Veterinary Teaching Hospital and is likely to go home tomorrow.

“He’s coped with the ordeal amazingly well, given his age and the position he fell into.”

Mrs Leathwick says the vets were “absolutely marvellous” and she praised the firefighters and helicopter crew for their professsionalism.


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