National News

Wild Salt River horse and her baby saved from canal near Mesa

Posted May 21, 2018 2:44 p.m. EDT

— A couple of Salt River horses are alive thanks to the tireless effort of Mesa firefighters and the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group.

A mother wild horse and her baby got stuck in a Salt River Project canal near Thomas and Higley roads late Sunday night.

"We were dispatched around 9:45 for two wild horses that had fallen into the canal," said Steve Richards, a battalion chief with the Mesa Fire and Medical Department.

The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group had contacted the fire department after they were unable to get the horses out themselves.

"Well, at first we attempted to lead the horse to the ramp because the mom knew how to get out at the ramp," said Simone Netherlands, president of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group. "But the baby kept floating away from her and then she ran right back after the baby.

"So we were hoping they'd be able to get out of the ramp but they floated past it and at that point, we actually had to rescue them."

A technical crew arrived and began working to save the baby horse first.

"The two horses were starting to struggle and starting to drown," said Richards.

Due to their size, fire crews had a hard time rescuing the horses.

"Obviously, this is difficult because of the weight of the horses," said Richards. "We were told they weighed anywhere between 600 and 1000 pounds so just being able to pull that type of weight out of a canal is difficult."

Thankfully, they were able to rescue both the baby and mother horse from the canal.

"These firemen were absolutely amazing," said Netherlands. "This is really tough. These are wild horses. They don't want to be caught, they don't want ropes around them."

Netherlands believed the horses were probably just thirsty and went down the ramp to get water before the current took them away.

Both Netherlands and Richards are optimistic the horses will survive.

"Anytime you can have a good outcome is a good day for us," said Richards.

Netherlands said the horses will recuperate with a veterinarian before being transferred to a safer location.