New Ipswich firefighters called on to rescue horse

Crews work to rescue a horse, named Ben Franklin, after it fell four feet through the floor of its stall.

Crews work to rescue a horse, named Ben Franklin, after it fell four feet through the floor of its stall. COURTESY PHOTO

After his rescue, Ben Franklin was found to have no major injuries and was able to be settled into a new stall.

After his rescue, Ben Franklin was found to have no major injuries and was able to be settled into a new stall. COURTESY PHOTO

Using a ramp, crews were able to bring the horse, named Ben Franklin, back to level ground.

Using a ramp, crews were able to bring the horse, named Ben Franklin, back to level ground. COURTESY PHOTO

Fire trucks line Preston Hill Road during a rescue of a horse, named Ben Franklin, that had fallen through a barn floor on Wednesday.

Fire trucks line Preston Hill Road during a rescue of a horse, named Ben Franklin, that had fallen through a barn floor on Wednesday. COURTESY PHOTO

By ASHLEY SAARI

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 04-29-2024 10:34 AM

Modified: 05-03-2024 1:27 PM


On Wednesday morning, New Ipswich fire crews responded to a unusual rescue request – a horse that had fallen through the floor of his barn and was stuck in his stall.

Shortly before 8 a.m., crews responded to 11 Preston Hill Road, and when they arrived, found that the floor of the stall had given way, and that the horse was standing on the dirt ground below the barn.

Fire Chief Gary Somero said initially, the 23-year-old horse, named Ben Franklin, was lying on its side in the dirt floor under the stall, about a four foot fall from the main floor of the barn.

“We first waited for a veterinarian to show up to sedate the horse, as he was pretty active,” Somero said.

Somero said the horse was checked by the veterinarian, but did not have any major injuries.

Crews cleared the debris from around the horse and called for assistance from the Keene Fire Department, which provides mutual aid to the town during technical rescues and large incidents. While the Keene crew was on their way, the horse was calmed, and the New Ipswich crew began to plan a way to get the animal back to level ground.

Somero said the Keene team has experience in these kinds of rescues, and responded to a very similar case in Swanzey the previous week. Somero said because horses are so large, and because these kinds of rescues are rare for New Ipswich, they are highly technical and can take a long time to complete while ensuring the safety of the rescuers and the animal.

“They’re always a challenge and take a long time to do properly,” Somero said.

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Usually, he said the horse is fitted with a strap and lifted from above, but the barn did not have the overhead structural components that would be needed to execute that kind of rescue.

“If the first plan doesn’t work, you try a second one,” Somero said. “ It was a good, collaborative effort.”

Somero said the horse was eventually able to stand and move itself enough that crews were able to remove a larger section of the stall, take the planks from the floor to build a ramp and successfully lead the horse up to the main floor of the barn.

“It was a really good horse, and was able to walk out on its own,” Somero said. “It went amazingly well. This is something we don’t really deal with, and he was a big horse, but fortunately, he had a calm disposition.”

The horse was able to move to another stall in the barn.

Somero thanked the Keene team for their assistance in the rescue.

Department called to brush fires

In other Fire Department news, New Ipswich crews were busy on Saturday, responding to a few minor calls during the course of the day before being dispatched as mutual aid to Ashburnham, Mass., to help put out a brush fire.

While the Fire Department was on that call, at about 6:07 p.m., Peterborough Fire & Rescue squad was dispatched for a reported brush fire on Route 123, initially reported to be in Sharon, where Peterborough provides fire services.

When the Peterborough crews arrived, it was discovered that the fire was located on the New Ipswich side of the town line, at the town’s transfer station off of Route 123.

According to Somero, earlier that day, the town had been burning brush at the transfer station, and the ashes had not been thoroughly extinguished. Wind carried some of the embers, which ignited a brush fire.

As New Ipswich crews were in Ashburnham, the Peterborough crews were requested to continue to respond to the brush fire, and begin to put it out. New Ipswich crews were released from the Ashburnham scene to return home to assist.

Somero said firefighters put out the fire shortly thereafter. There were no injuries, and the fire was limited to brush, with no firefighter injuries reported.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172, Ext. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on X @AshleySaariMLT.