Tim looked around the pasture, puzzled. The last time he had checked, both mare and foal were fine, but now the 2-month-old colt was nowhere to be seen. Tim mounted up and started searching, finally catching the sound of a faint whinny. Following the cry, he discovered the foal had fallen down an uncovered well hole. Lassie was busy, so Tim called 911 instead.
Okay, maybe events didn’t exactly unfold like that, but during the last year in Kentucky alone, three separate incidents of foals falling into exposed wells were reported to Hagyard Equine Emergency Response Team and Kentucky Large Animal Emergency Rescue (KLAER).
Undertaking such a rescue is a harrowing matter, not just for the unfortunate victim, but also for rescue personnel. In one of those incidents in Kentucky, "we had to send a team of specially trained people that knew about technical rope rescue," explains Nathan Slovis, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, large animal emergency response director at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington. They tested the air quality inside the well to identify potentially toxic gases. They lowered a veterinarian trained in large animal rescue, wearing protective clothing to safeguard against hoof strikes, bite wounds, abrasions, and infectious organisms, slowly into the well to put rigging on the foal. An A-frame with a winch was positioned over the hole so the team could slowly raise the foal.
After standing in two feet of water for several hours, the foal had hypothermia, shock, and dehydration. "The foal could have died without pro