According to residents of the home, three boys were swimming in the enclosed pool just after 1:30 p.m. when the horse slipped into the screened enclosure through a door that was partially open. As the horse was being led back out into the yard, the horse became frightened and backed up into the pool.
The horse, a retired race horse according to its owner, is just 6 years old and stubbornly refused to exit the pool using the stairs provided. A local vetinarian was called to the scene to check the horse for injuries and after nearly two and a half hours of trying to coax the horse out of the pool, the frustrated group called 911 for assistance from BCFR and Brevard County Animal Services & Enforcement.
The first arriving crews recognized immediately that this was not an ordinary rescue and called for the department’s Special Operations Team. A select few members of the Special Operations Team received advanced training in animal rescue during a class that was offered in collaboration with the Brevard Zoo and also included representatives from Disney’s Animal Kingdom. During the class, the firefighters received training on caring for sick/injured animals, as well as various techniques for rescuing entrapped animals. As part of the class, members had the opportunity to hoist and “rescue” a llama, two horses, and a rhinoceros.
After continued attempts to assist the horse out of the water proved unsuccessful, crew members put their training and problem-solving skills to use. Under the direction of the vetinarian and with the approval of the homeowner, firefighters removed a portion of the pool enclosure and called in a heavy-duty wrecker that is normally used by Fire Rescue Fleet to tow fire engines. Using a makeshift sling rigged to the back of the tow truck, the crews hoisted the horse out of the water and onto firm ground at 6:48 p.m.
According to the vetinarian, the horse appeared uninjured but would be monitored for stress-related issues for the next 24 hours.