Back in 2006 more than 100 horses were stranded on a tiny knoll in a flood-ravaged area of The Netherlands. Wranglers, veterinarians, firefighters, animal welfare workers, and even the Ditch Army got involved in the effort to get the equines to safety. People around the country anxiously watched the news unfold, hoping and praying that the horses could be brought to safety. Just when it looked like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were headed their way a group of four horsewomen showed up and led the way to salvation.
The flooding had occurred on October 31 and by November 3 things were already getting dire. Firefighters had only been able to ferry about 20 of the horses (including all of the foals) off of the impromptu island and 19 more had died of drowning and exposure. It was clear that the methods they were employing were not going to work in time to save many of the horses. This was even though the horses were being brought fresh water and hay each day to keep them going. Wind and icy rain continued to batter the horses and they huddled together for warmth and support with their faces away from the storms.
Another storm was on the horizon when someone posted on a horse forum asking for the help of riders with no fear of water to come to the aid of the stranded horses. Seven women responded to create a group called The Netherlands Horse Rescue. They were prepared to risk their lives to help out.
The water between the knoll and higher ground was treacherous, with brackish water, deep and unexpected pockets of water, and submerged barbed wire. Slowly the rescuers determined a safe path through the water for the horses to travel. They marked the path with stakes and lined with small boats manned by firefighters.
Four of the horsewomen and their horses braved the dangers of the shallow but treacherous flood waters to get to the horses on the knoll. Then the great migration began. Two of the women took up the lead and with a little nudging the horses began to herd after them to cross the 650 yards of water that separated them from safety. Horses trust other horses in situations like this. Some of the rescuers worked on the knoll to make sure the horses followed the rest of their friends to safety. In the end one horse didn't take the chance, but it was later led to safety by firefighters.
The horses, having reached higher ground, were all given some TLC and much needed rest before being returned to open pasture. The entire country breathed a sigh of relief, except, perhaps, for the owner of the horses who was then accused of abuse and neglect. He had been accused of neglect of his animals before.
The women of The Netherlands Horse Rescue and their trusty steeds are truly heroes for their successful efforts to save so many of these beautiful animals.
Images via YouTube