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A Chance encounter

Published 17/09/2015

Volunteers from Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) Manningham Unit worked into the early hours of Tuesday morning to free Clydesdale draught horse, Chance, who had become stuck between an embankment and a shed in Warrandyte, east of Melbourne.

In a quiet moment of reflection on Wednesday morning, owner Matthew Jeffery expressed his appreciation for the contributions made by Manningham SES throughout the ordeal. “I am so grateful for the SES volunteers who came out in the middle of the night to give me a hand. The situation was awkward and the number of people who turned out at such short notice was sensational.”

Manningham SES was alerted just after 11.30pm on Monday night when an off-duty member discovered her neighbour’s distressed horse, after hearing unusual noises on the adjacent property.

Crews were swift and thorough in their response, with two vehicles and eight volunteers attending. “It was certainly a matter of urgency for us. We were conscious of the fact that it was a very stressful time for the horse’s owner and that situations like this can quickly become dangerous for both the animal and any bystanders,” said a spokesperson for Manningham SES.

Upon arrival at the scene, rescuers began to fully understand the difficulties that would be faced in extricating the exhausted 800 kilogram horse.

“The rescue was complicated by the sheer size and weight of the horse, as well as the location of the entrapment, which prevented the use of specialist rescue resources designed to lift large animals.” Manningham volunteers were in contact with large animal rescue experts from NSW Fire and Rescue at critical points during the incident, as concerns grew for the horse’s welfare.

“Our primary objective was to assist Mr. Jeffery in his efforts to free the horse. Over the course of the night we provided lighting, specialist equipment and support in digging out the animal.”

“There was significant rainfall threatening the area and it became a race against time to free Chance before the ground became soft, which would have really hindered the operation.”

The horse was able to walk out after excavations were made into the embankment to allow it room to stand up. Some spare tires from a nearby shed were thrown under the head and neck of the horse when it became restless, which gave the animal enough leverage to get out.

“Whilst we don’t attend incidents like this very often, it is really important that our people get it right because there is a lot at stake - not just for the horse and its owner, but also for the safety of the crew and the general public.”

“We were ecstatic with the result, and it was particularly satisfying to see Chance reunited with his anxious stable-mate, Diesel.”

Diesel, Chance and grateful owner Matthew Jeffery are reunited with one of their rescuers, Linda Stammers (VICSES)