(NEW YORK) — When a runaway horse was found inside the icy waters of a Wisconsin lake this weekend, a group of good Samaritans banded together to make sure the Mustang would get a chance to ride on Christmas.
Residents and other neighbors told ABC News they were relieved that the horse, who they dubbed Jack after the Titanic character, was able to get up and stand after it spent three hours in the water in Wood Lake, Wisconsin on Sunday.
Mike Strub, the president of the Big Wood Lake Association, and resident of the lake who was on the scene during the rescue, told ABC News that despite the subzero temperatures and limited resources, his neighbors never gave up until they could get Jack to safety.
“This doesn’t surprise me. That is the kind of neighborhood and community that would do something like that,” he told ABC News.
The incident took place Saturday after a tree fell on a fence and created an opening for Jack to leave, according to Frontier Stables, which helped to reunite the horse with its family.
D.J. Ryan, 38, who was one of a dozen people who were on the ice to help the horse, told ABC News he saw a Facebook post Saturday night from a neighbor about a horse that was seen wandering the road, so he and another neighbor went out to investigate.
“We did find its trench and I thought it was on its way home,” he told ABC News.
The next morning, residents of the lake saw the horse walk on the frozen body and surveillance camera footage filmed it falling into the water around 8:30 a.m., according to Strub.
Ryan said he and his neighbors quickly went to the lake to see what they could do.
“We saw it out there struggling and bobbing out, about 150 yards off the shore,” he said adding that temperatures were negative 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ryan, who owns horses and whose mother is a veterinarian, said the horse was a Mustang, which is known to be pretty strong in cold weather conditions, but he and his neighbors knew that it would only be a matter of time before hypothermia took over. He and his neighbors spent a long time figuring out the best way to rescue Jack without harming him.
“On the scene, there was a veterinarian. As long as the horse was still moving and kicking it was savable. That’s why they never gave up,” Strub said.
After trial and error, the rescuers were able to get a nylon strap under the horse and were able to guide it onto the ice slowly but surely.
“We started to get that taut and with that pressure we got him on the edge of the ice and kind of thrusted himself out of the water,” Ryan said.
The rescuers had to push the horse and haul it to get it away from the lake. A short while later, the horse was able to get on its feet and was able to walk on its own.
“He had a look like what the heck was going on?” Ryan said. “We were amazed that he was able to get up and walk as fast as he did.”
The rescuers led Jack to a horse trailer where it was driven to a climate controlled stable.
“We had all people with binoculars watching it from the lake and cheering. It was a point of pride,” Strub said.
Representatives from Frontier Stables, which housed Jack, told ABC News that he was doing well during his time recuperating. After they posted a photo of Jack on their Facebook page, Frontier Stables said they were contacted by the horse’s owners.
Ryan said he spoke with the owners and said they were slated to reunite with the horse on Saturday.
“They’re super excited,” he said.
Ryan added that he and his neighbors felt relieved that they were able to save the horse and that now the family is going to have a happy Christmas.
“It’s part of living in the country here in rural Wisconsin,” he said. “You see everything and everyone is willing to help.”
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