I spoke with Karen Cohen, whose Rocky Monet was trapped in the bog yesterday. She posted this on Facebook and says we can put it on our Website to caution others. - Elise Levinson
About 12 years ago I was crossing a creek on my little Arab with my friend, Sharon Conley. this was a normal place to cross but it had rained and then the rain slowed and the creek was sluggish. All of a sudden my mare started to sink in the mud. She spooked and started to spin. My friend yelled--get off that is quicksand! I jumped off and was able to coax my mare up out of the mud.
Well something extremely frightening happened yesterday and I am posting so that others can learn from my mistake and avoid similar near tragedies in the future. My daughter and I were walking our Rocky Mountain horses up Woodcutters trail in Wilder ranch We had waited for a warmer day and were going at a slow pace. The ground seems fine. We got to a place where there is a culvert under the road but in the rains the water had begun to go up over the road. Weeks ago it was actually fast moving water making a small waterfall off the right side of the road. The ground at that point was hard. Sonya, riding Monet passed the spot but Cruz placed his nose down indicating that he wanted to drink that delicious attractive mineral laced water that the horses seem to love. Sonya turned around to let Monet drink the water too. She took one or two steps to her right toward the source of the slow flowing water and it was as if she stepped off a steep cliff. She was immediately chest deep in mud. Of course she tried to free herself by leaping forward which only served to move her further into the quicksand like mud. Sonya jumped off and I jumped off my horse to try and turn her to what appeared to be hard ground but as my feet touched I too sunk to thigh level. The ground was liquifying with any weight. We tried to turn her but I sent Sonya to get Rudy our barn helper and bring some ropes. Rudy could not get there in the Kabota due to a downed tree. Sonya came back on horseback and I left her there to call for help. While I was away the horse had sunken deeper and had her whole body in the mud with only her one eye and nostrils above. She was becoming hypothermic and shaking. Sonya was there alone holding her head above the water with a single rope. Eventually Rudy, Sonya, Sharon and I were there trying to free the horse and it became evident that we needed to call 911 and alert Cal Fire and Equine rescue. Luckily Sharon had been able to open the gait from Smith Grade and they arrived in about 25 minutes. Two officers including officer Gonzales arrived and called for more help. Then when more people came the officer had the idea to shovel out a diversion for some of the water to harden up the mud. Meanwhile Sonya was chest deep in the mud almost diving under to get a rope around the mare's belly. She kept her cool to my relative panic and had definite ideas about how to proceed. This is especially poignant because she was flashing on this movie that she watched over and over as a child; The Neverending Story, where the horse sinks into a mud swamp and dies. Monet was shivering and closing her eyes and appeared to be drifting away in will but every fifteen minutes she made an effort to free herself. Due to the shovel work the ground became firmer and she was able to throw herself forward. The officers were concerned that her legs under the heavy mud might be broken. The picture you see was her hoisting herself onto a place where the roots of a tree kept the ground more solid. We did not have to hold her head above the mud and she was able to rest and breath. from here she made another effort and righted herself and got her two front feet above the hardening mud. People tried the idea of getting a rope under her chest but it was impossible. After another 10 minute rest she took everything she had left and pushed forward and was able to get purchase and pull herself free. Every one there had helped but the calm determined nature of my little Rocky Mountain mare who did not panic and never gave up allowed her to finally free herself from the cold heavy mud. Once out Sonya lead her to our barn and she got a hot shower and immediately began scarfing up her hay and of course I made her a warm mash of nourishing food. Thank you to Cal Fire and Equine rescue and my hero, Sonya, and the spirit of my awesome mare, Monet and the powers that blessed us with another day. In short; beware of areas where the water is moving sluggishly and there is a build up of silt after a storm. These areas are unsafe. Only tread where you can determine the ground is solid. Slow moving water will make silt deposits and this is what must be avoided. Thanks again to everyone who helped. Today Monet is turned out and enjoying the sun with her friends Cruz and Mocha. I am very grateful.