GRAFTON — Two horses were rescued from a pool on Fowler Road Wednesday afternoon.
Chester Gray, 80, of Fowler Road said he was on his way out Wednesday around 11 a.m. to run errands when he saw the two horses bounding down a hill in neighboring Springfield, towards his property.
The horses, Gray recognized as belonging to a Springfield woman he knows, jumped over a stone wall.
He didn’t think much of it, thinking the two horses were grazing in a field past the stone wall.
“I was packing my truck to go to the transfer station with my trash and to go to the library,” Gray said. “When these two horses came running down the road, down the mountain at full speed, over a stone wall and into a field. I knew whose horses they were and I figured they would be okay cause it’s an open field.”
He went out and returned an hour later, inside his home though he could hear loud breathing.
“I went and looked out my back windows and saw these two horse heads ... sticking out of the holes in the tarp,” he said.
The horses had not gone into the field, but around his house and into his swimming pool and had gotten tangled in the green mesh pool covering.
The horses were in the nine-foot deep end of his large pool, which was full of frigid water.
“The water was extremely cold, not quite frozen, but it felt like that,” Gray said. “I knew they couldn’t be standing on the bottom because it’s far too deep and I knew they were treading water and wouldn’t last for long. They were able to keep their heads above water, but I didn’t think they could do that for long.”
Gray first called the owner, Michelle Sullivan of Springfield, but was unable to reach her. Next he called police, who responded with the fire department and other area rescue workers.
The first thing firefighters did was pump water out of the pool so the horses could at least stand. Then, when they couldn’t get the horses out of the tangled pool cover, which had already been ripped up by the horse hooves, the cover was cut so the horses could be helped out of the pool.
Grafton Fire Chief John Babiarz said Thursday that when he showed up a fire engine was already being used to pump water out of the pool.
“I saw two horses that were trapped in the pool. They were shivering and trapped in the deep end. I think the pool cover was the only thing holding them up,” he said.
However, the angle of the in-ground pool prevented firefighters from pumping out more than about a foot and a half of water.
Then the head of the white Arabian horse went under the tarp, and firefighters decided to cut away the tarp to save the horses.
Babiarz said he and a member of the Canaan Fire Department donned wetsuits and got into the water to cut the pool cover off the horses. Tthe horses remained calm, didn’t get “spooked” and no one was injured, he said.
The horses did have cuts from being wrapped up in the pool cover. Babiarz said the horses were suffering from hyperthermia Wednesday night and received a visit from a veterinarian in the evening, who administered antibiotics to the horses.
He estimated that the horses were in the water 90 minutes.
Towards the end, the horses’ owner showed up.
“The owner was frantic and terrified,” Gray said. “It was a scary thing because at first I didn’t think they would make it. I thought they would sink under the water and drown.”
Once out of the nearly freezing water, the horses were dried off and warmed with blankets. They were then walked around for an hour before Sullivan walked her horses home.