THORNBURY TWP., Pa. --Rescuers and veterinarians freed a 1,700-pound Clydesdale named Cyrus from the mud surrounding a drinking pond used by animals on Thornbury Farms in Chester County.
They knew it was going to be a delicate operation and started first by sedating the horse.
"One of the most delicate parts of a horse's body are its legs; we were using heavy equipment with a lot of power behind it, if you pull too hard you risk injuring the horse's lower limbs, if not breaking them," Dr. Jill Acland of the Unionville Equine Associates said.
Reporter Sarah Bloomquist from sister station WPVI in Philadelphia was live on Facebook as the horse was freed:
Cyrus was discovered missing around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. The farm manager found him deep in the mud unable to move.
"He probably was chased by one of the other big horses, scared, ran into the mud, got stuck," farm manager Penny Parker said.
Crews trained in trench rescues used special equipment to disperse the mud and relieve the suction.
They freed Cyrus' legs and gave him saline and other medication to keep him comfortable.
Then, using a crane, he was carefully lifted up and out of the mud to safety on the other side of the pond.
"I lost it. That was horrible to watch. I was really scared for him. I've been really emotional all day," Parker said.
Cyrus was rescued at auction about eight weeks ago and came to live temporarily at Thornbury Farms until he goes on to his new owners in Virginia.
He's at least 18 years old and likely spent his entire life working the fields on a farm. Rescuers are hoping he has many more years ahead of him.
"He's already been through a lot. This was sort of the icing on the cake so we want to do everything we can to keep this horse," Acland said.
Cyrus is in guarded condition. It doesn't appear he suffered any broken bones. But he is an old horse and veterinarians will be keeping a close eye as the sedation wears off. They need to make sure he can stand on his own.