A Lexington police horse had to be rescued by the fire department when his leg got trapped in an uncovered utility hole on East Sixth Street Tuesday night, but the horse was expected to make a full recovery.
Lexington police said the 17-year-old horse, Yoder, and his rider, Officer Shawn Davis, were on their way to the Christmas parade downtown when the horse’s rear left leg got stuck in the utility access hole at about 6:30 p.m. near Elm Tree Lane.
Yoder’s shoe had become caught in a pipe inside the utility hole, and fire officials worked for more than an hour trying to free it.
X-rays later revealed that the horse did not have any broken bones, only cuts and abrasions.
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Davis was not injured.
The police department said the fire department, as well as three veterinarians and crews from the city’s Division of Streets and Roads responded to their call for help.
Responders sedated the horse and set up a pulley system to support his weight.
After chipping at the asphalt around the cast iron pipe, rescuers were able to pull Yoder’s leg out with the pipe still attached, Lexington fire Battalion Chief Chris Ward said.
“We treat it just like we would a human being,” Ward said of the rescue. “Legs on a horse, we all know how fragile they are.”
Once freed from the hole, rescuers laid the horse on its side so veterinarians could look at him, Ward said. The horse’s shoe was removed and the pipe slid off.
He was taken by equine ambulance to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital to have X-rays done.
The police department said Yoder would remain at the hospital overnight to be monitored, but he was apparently doing well later in the evening, as the department released a photo of him standing up and eating.
Yoder has been on the police department’s mounted unit for a year and a half, said police Lt. Nate Muller. The police department said he is an Appendix Quarter Horse/Belgian cross.
“Our horses aren’t pets. Our dogs aren’t pets,” Muller said. But he said they are part of the police family.
“Our lives often depend on the quality of animals that we have,” Muller said.
Five other horses from the Lexington Police Mounted Unit were at the scene of the rescue, all wearing Santa hats. The group had left the police department’s barn on West Sixth Street near Coolavin Park to go to the parade when the accident occurred.