The Little Fork Volunteer Technical Large Animal Rescue Team lifts a horse from a swimming pool near Gordonsville last week.

The Little Fork Volunteer Technical Large Animal Rescue Team has helped free another stranded critter – this time a horse stuck in a pool. A few days earlier, the team attempted another rescue, but with sad results.

Just before 7 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 1, the local team – based out of Little Fork Volunteer Fire Co. in Rixeyville – was dispatched to assist at the horse incident near Gordonsville in Orange County. The area had experienced high winds and a line of storms the night prior, Halloween night, and “Annie” a Haflinger had escaped from her field and went exploring, according to a Facebook post from Little Fork Volunteer Technical Large Animal Rescue Team.

The horse was probably thirsty and saw some water and “just like that” found herself in the swimming pool, the post stated. Her owners discovered her and called the Orange County 911 who dispatched Gordonsville Volunteer Fire Dept. and then requested the animal rescue team through Culpeper County 911.

A veterinarian with Keswick Equine Clinic was present when the Rixeyville team arrived. Gordonsville VFD had already started to pump water out along with placing a firefighter in the pool to maintain control of Annie.

After discussing several options, it was decided to use a tractor and a Becker Sling to lift the horse from the pool. The vet obtained a core body temperature, prepared some sedation for the animal and Annie’s head was covered. The front of the tractor was also covered with flotation devices for protection.

Crews rigged Annie for the lift and brought the tractor into place. The sling was attached, sedation given, and she was slowly lifted from the pool.

Once out, the horse was moved to flat ground and lowered. Annie began to stand on her own so the sling was released and she was led away from the pool area for further evaluation and care. As volunteers with Little Fork left, Annie was eating breakfast and enjoying all of the attention, according to the Facebook post.

Three days earlier, on Oct. 28, the Large Animal Rescue Team responded into the woods in Culpeper County for a call of a dog fallen into a well 35-feet-deep. Sadly, the family pet died before he could be safely recovered.

Harnesses, rope, lighting and other safety equipment was nonetheless used to attempt the reach the dog. Eventually, rigging was secured and a rescue technician from the Fredericksburg Fire Department entered the well and retrieved the dog.

The female pet was gently covered and then given to the grieving owners. The technician was deconned and all of the equipment was secured, according to Little Fork Volunteer.

The team advised the public to never attempt to enter a confined space like the well.

“We lowered a gas detector into the well before starting the operation and found that the oxygen level was 15 percent. Had anyone entered the well they would have been overwhelmed and succumbed to the lack of oxygen. As can be seen in the pics, we have special training and gear including air packs to enter confined spaces,” according to the Facebook post.

The Little Fork Volunteer Technical Large Animal Rescue Team is the only volunteer team of its type in Virginia. From Oct. 18 to 28, it received eight calls for assistance, making it one of its busiest months ever. The Team operates strictly from donations. To donate, see

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