Horse in the Loft

Here is a synopsis of a challenging call from a neighboring volunteer department.  This is written by Chief Daniel Whatley of the Bourbon Fire Protection District in Bourbon, MO.  Pictures were provided by him as well.

Just goes to show that you need to be ready for anything.

On June 13, 2010 Bourbon Firefighters were called to a local farm for a report of a horse on the second story of a barn.  When fire personnel arrived they noticed that the 1500 lbs equestrian was greeting them at the second story hay loft doors.  Caretakers of the horse said that the horse had been chased up the stairs by other horses.  They attempted to lead the horse down with food to no avail, prompting the call to 911.

Assistant Fire Chief Jared Boast contacted the owner of the horse which happened to be a veterinarian in St Louis and was on his way to assist as well as a local vet.  Given the complexity of the rescue, additional resources had to be contacted to facilitate the removal.  Eureka Fire Protection District in St Louis County was notified with their Technical Rescue team that has an Equestrian Search Team and also performs large animal rescues.  Local business owner Tim Reinhold of TRE responded to the scene with a crane for the ultimate removal of the animal.


Upon the arrival of the veterinarians and Eureka Fire the incident moved swiftly.  A header for the second story hay loft was removed to facilitate the cranes boom to be maneuvered into the second story.  Veterinarians mildly sedated the horse for the rigging procedure.  Eureka Fire secured the horse to the crane using their specialized rigging equipment for large animals.  Ultimately the equestrian had to have additional sedation for the lowering procedure and was removed from the second story to the ground below.  The horse was removed from harness and released uninjured.

Many ideas had circulated throughout the incident of different ways to remove the horse many good and a few not so good.  Without knowing the resources of different specialized teams in the area, the outcome may have been worse for the animal.  With this not being Eureka Fire’s first “rodeo” things moved smoothly and upon their arrival, the horse was lowered to the ground safely within 20 minutes.

1 Comment

  • Rodney Sonderman says:

    I have heard stories (but not confirmed) that old firehouses would put in spiral staircases to keep this from happening. The horses would follow firefighters up the stairs and would not be able to return to the bay.

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