Heathcliffe the horse has swollen legs, a few scrapes, and is on a course of antibiotics after he was dramatically rescued from drowning in a flooded Wellington stream.
It took a teen powerlifting star, a newly-retired police boat skipper, a photographer, a longtime Takapu Valley resident and a man with a digger to haul Heathcliffe out.
The region was drenched in one-in-10-year rainfall on Saturday.
The hypothermic and panicked horse couldn’t move his legs and his head had to be held above the water when he was found in Takapu Stream.
Photographer Rob Suisted was driving to check stock in Takapu Valley when he spotted two people in the steam with the horse, so he got a strop from his vehicle and put it around the animal’s neck, with all three of them rolling the horse over.
“It got swept about three metres. It was kicking and struggling … the strop around its neck was the only thing keeping it from washing away, but it was also strangling it.”
The rescue came to an end when someone arrived with a digger and, with another strop around the horse’s belly, Heathcliffe was pulled to safety.
Former police launch skipper David “Tex” Houston, left, and teen powerlifter Rachel Duncan work to keep Takapu Valley horse Heathcliffe from drowning. Photo / Rob Suisted, www.naturespic.co.nz
Owner Yvonne Denton told the Herald this evening it had been a stressful day.
“At one point I thought we’d lost him, when we got him out of the stream and he was unresponsive and I thought- that would be the absolute worst way for him to go after having him for 15 years.”
Denton said Heathcliffe was recovering from the rescue and brighter than what she thought he would be.
“He’s been through a bit of an ordeal, but he’s eating and drinking and doing all the right things, so we can’t ask too much more than that.”
He was checked over by a vet on Saturday night, who was amazed by how well Heathcliffe had come away from the incident.
Heathcliffe has a few scrapes, swollen legs, and is on a course of antibiotics.
Denton said the first seven days of his recovery are critical as that would be when any infection took hold.
The horse got water in his lungs after nearly drowning, so Denton has been watching closely for pneumonia.
“Pneumonia in an older horse is a serious illness and he would require quite intensive treatment and medication to recover”
Denton said he has been very quiet and subdued apart from a few whinnies when she checked on him.
“Which is kind of cute.”
She said she is quietly confident Heathcliffe will pull through to live out the rest of his retirement years in peace.