There’s a reason why the first rule of trail riding is to never go out alone. Gretchen Zwicker was out riding her 13-year-old horse named Libby when the pleasurable ride quickly turned dangerous. Thankfully, Zwicker was with a friend. When Libby started acting out and got trapped in deep mud, the riders were able to work together, call for help, and save the horse’s life. Zwicker compared the situation to watching your child go through trauma, and we’re extremely grateful for quick-thinking rescuers who got Libby out unharmed.
Zwicker and Libby were riding at the Burrage Reservation in Hanson, Massachusetts when Libby started acting out. As much as Zwicker tried to get her horse under control, Libby had different plans. The 1,000-pound horse flipped on her side and sent Zwicker into the marsh.
Zwicker was pinned in the water with her panicked horse holding her down. A friend managed to pull the woman out from under her horse, and amazingly, she wasn’t seriously hurt. The trouble continued, however, when Libby suddenly got to her feet and galloped deeper into the swampy area.
Knowing her horse was terrified in a dangerous area, Zwicker called 911.
Plymouth County Technical Rescue Team deployed a team of experienced large animal rescuers to locate the horse. Due to the thick vegetation, Zwicker could hear her horse panicking nearby, but she couldn’t see her. Locating the terrified horse in the large marshy area was the first challenge, but they soon realized their job was far from finished.
In her hysteria, Libby ran straight into deep mud. She couldn’t pull herself out, and it was clear she needed immediate help. Zwicker’s casual trail ride had turned into a life or death situation.
Getting the necessary rescue equipment into the marsh took time. They needed a special harness and a backhoe, not to mention a veterinarian to safely sedate the panicked Libby.
With Libby finally calm, her rescuers could safely get to work. They maneuvered the large horse into position and hooked her up to the backhoe. From there, they slowly lifted her out of the mud and moved her to solid ground.
Zwicker told news outlets,
“The rescuers were absolutely unbelievable. I’ll never be able to thank them enough.”
When things started to go downhill, Zwicker did everything right. She wasn’t out there alone, and she knew right away she needed to call for help. Thanks to her quick-thinking, Libby is sore, but she’s alive.