Photo provided
Responders from North Whidbey Fire and Rescue and the Navy rescue 24-year-old Ruby from a trench Nov. 11.

Photo provided Responders from North Whidbey Fire and Rescue and the Navy rescue 24-year-old Ruby from a trench Nov. 11.

Firefighters rescue horse from ditch

The horse slipped into a narrow trench around 7 p.m., hitting and breaking her jaw during the fall.

If you’re planning to dash through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh this holiday season, keep an eye out for ditches in your path.

Or, at least keep some firefighters on speed dial.

North Whidbey Fire and Rescue firefighters rescued a 24-year-old horse named Ruby from a ditch on the evening of Nov. 11. Ruby belongs to Oak Harbor resident Linda Chatfield.

Ruby slipped into the narrow trench on Chatfield’s property around 7 p.m., hitting and breaking her jaw during the fall, and became stuck. Fire Captain Chris Geiger said he believed the trench had been dug to lay water lines.

The ditch was about 4 feet deep and 2 feet wide. There was a slope leading up and out of the ditch behind Ruby, but the space was too narrow for her to turn around. Responders had to lead her out backward.

Geiger said firefighters removed roots that were impeding the horse and laid plywood down on the slope so her feet wouldn’t sink into the rain-softened ground.

“She’s so old, and she was shivering, and to me, I’m not a horse person, but she looked exhausted,” Geiger said. “My concern as the incident commander was that she was going to completely collapse.”

Responders managed to get some harness straps around Ruby’s body to encourage her to move backward and help lift her up the slope.

Despite the wind blowing and rain falling around them, the firefighters successfully extricated Ruby from the ditch that evening.

Ten North Whidbey Fire and Rescue responders were present at the scene, as well as five responders from the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

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