In what the Orange County Fire Authority called "one of the most technical horse rescues we have performed," fire officials on Monday used a helicopter to rescue a horse in San Juan Capistrano.
The horse and its experienced rider were on a horse trail in San Juan Capistrano when the horse was spooked and ran off, according to OCFA spokesman Sean Doran. The rider was able to safely dismount from the horse before it ran away.
The horse was found near a concrete ledge, stuck on its back, wedged upside down between pieces of concrete and exposed rebar. It was unclear whether the horse fell off the concrete ledge 6 feet above the point it was trapped, or if it was running below the ledge and hit something, getting stuck between pieces of concrete.
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A call to the OCFA came in around 6 p.m. on Monday, at which point rescue crews sprang into action.
Members of the OCFA technical rescue team, air operations crew and firefighters worked together with veterinarians to rescue the animal, according to Twitter statement.
Veterinarians sedated the horse where it was trapped at the start of the rescue operation. Firefighters then dug around the animal to get as much debris out of the way as possible, while technical rescue firefighters "rigged an alternative rope and webbing system to secure the horse" before the airlift.
Because of the sharp edges of the debris surrounding the horse, rescue crews couldn't use their traditional horse hoist rigging system, Doran said. The horse instead had to be moved horizontally in one specific direction to avoid injury.
Team members on the ground gave the helicopter a landmark for which direction to move the horse away from the concrete, before it was lifted up and out of the debris.
The horse was lowered to safety on the ground, and treated by veterinarians who assisted it as it recovered from the sedation. The horse was quickly able to stand up once it was out of the concrete.
"Crews were happy to see the horse they worked so diligently to rescue get up and walk on its own to the horse transport to seek further medical evaluation," the OCFA said on Twitter.
Doran said the horse was taken to a hospital, and updates on the animal's condition are expected later this week.