Emergency services teamwork saves fallen horse Franklin

HEROES: NSW SES Port Stephens unit volunteers left, and NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers, right, help Franklin after a fall at Hinton. Picture: Belinda-Jane Davis

HEROES: NSW SES Port Stephens unit volunteers left, and NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers, right, help Franklin after a fall at Hinton. Picture: Belinda-Jane Davis

When disaster strikes it's a huge relief to be able to pick up the phone and know the emergency services will be there to help.

Especially when it's your beloved horse that is in trouble.

A freak accident at our Hinton farm earlier this month left Franklin trapped between trees and an embankment. The 24-year-old had slipped on some mud and slid down against tree trunks, unable to find his feet.

With his back legs up in the air, and unable to roll over, he was well and truly stuck. The clever boy started neighing at the top of his lungs, and luckily I heard it, knew it was odd and went to investigate.

He must have been saying "Help! Call the NSW SES".

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I'll never forget the shock, and indeed horror, that shuddered through every centimetre of my body when I saw him trapped like that. But there was no time for worrying, I had to get help. So I reassured Franklin that help would be here soon.

Within half an hour the NSW SES Port Stephens Unit - equipped with their large animal rescue gear, Bowthorne-Hinton and Bolwarra-Largs Rural Fire Service brigades and Port Stephens Hunter Inspector Dan Skelly were doing everything they could for him.

Morpeth Veterinary Hospital's veterinarian Bastian Ness had also rushed out to assist and assessed Franklin before sedating him so he could be moved without injuring himself or the rescuers.

The SES positioned sliders under his body to help move him and then used ropes to manoeuvre his twisted body back into a normal posture. It took at least 13 volunteers to move him so it was lucky the RFS were there to lend a hand.

While the rescue plan was being hatched, and in between movements, Inspector Skelly was by Franklin's side helping to comfort him and reassure him. Some of the volunteers also patted and reassured him now and then.

It was a beautiful thing to see them take great care in the rescue operation but also in showing Franklin that they cared about him.

Once Franklin's whole body was on the slider they pulled him out into the paddock and removed all of the gear before saying goodbye.

Then it was up to Dr Ness to reverse the sedation and see if Franklin could stand up. Within 20 minutes the sedation wore off and all of a sudden he leapt off the ground and took off, letting out a massive neigh.

I ran after him, calming and reassuring him that everything was alright. He kept neighing for a few minutes before deciding it was time to enjoy some grass. He must have been saying "thank you! Thank you so much". The large animals of this area are so fortunate to have these trained volunteers who can help them out of a tricky situation.

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