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Snowbound horses rescued from B.C. mountainside
Published Wednesday, December 24, 2008 5:21PM MST
Two starving horses that were left by an Edmonton man on the side of a B.C. mountain after a failed hiking supply delivery are now safe and recovering at a farm near the province's border with Alberta.
Snowmobilers first discovered the horses on the side of Mount Renshaw, near McBride, B.C., about a week ago. But they couldn't bring the animals off the mountain because of deep snow.
"A decision had to be made whether the horses should be put down or if it was possible to get them out. Were they well enough? My brother made the decision that he was going to get them out," Gordon Jeck told CTV.ca on Wednesday from his B.C. farm.
For the past week, Jeck, his family, and other volunteers have been digging a kilometre-long trench to the nearest trail to get the two horses, Sundance and Belle, out.
Late Tuesday night, the horses finally made it out of their snow-bound prison and were put on a trailer and taken to a farm.
CTV News spoke to the horses' owner who requested his name not be used. He says he and the horses were delivering supplies to hikers on the mountain in September when he became separated from the animals.
The owner says he went back to the mountain three times to find the horses. The first two times he got stuck in the snow and even rolled his truck and trailer and the third time he was able to locate the animals, but couldn't get them out of the snow.
"It was sort of a hopeless situation, we couldn't even see the bottom of the mountain, we didn't know which way out was out," said the owner.
The animals were then found by a snowmobiler last week. About two dozen volunteers brought feed to the horses, helped dig the trench and then walked them about 30 kilometres to safety.
"There was 6 of us, two leading the horses and four on the sleds and we just kept taking turns and stopped a couple times and let the horses rest, fed them some hay and tried to warm up ourselves and kept going," said volunteer Birgit Stutz.
After this three failed attempts the owner says he is amazed the group was able to get the animals to safety.
"It's unbelievable that they could shovel eight to ten feet of snow that distance and then get the horses back and mobile again. It's wonderful," he said.
The owner is expecting to bring Sundance and Belle back to this Edmonton home, but the SPCA has seized the animals while they conduct their investigation.
They are investigating to determine whether the owner took the necessary precautions to ensure the horses wouldn't suffer.
With files from The Canadian Press