GREENBUSH, Maine — Prince and Charlie, big Belgian draft horses who had just arrived at their new home with owner Earl Strandell on Saturday afternoon, had quite the adventure during their first full day there.
The equine duo knocked down their fence early Sunday and took off into nearby woods with Strandell on their heels.
He caught up with them about 45 minutes after they escaped when Prince fell though the ice on a bog about a mile from Strandell’s homestead. Ice-cold water reached up to the horse’s midsection and there was no way Strandell was going to get him out without assistance, he said Sunday afternoon.
He called Greenbush Fire Department at around 10:30 a.m. and eight firefighters and Selectman Charlie Adams trekked the mile or so through the snow to reach the trapped animal.
“We’ve been horse fishing,” Greenbush Chief Donald Burr said Sunday afternoon after freeing the horse. “There was two horses. One went through the ice and the other one was standing beside it waiting to go through the ice.”
The massive Belgian draft horse, slightly larger than a Clydesdale, needed help from Adams and firefighter Scott Jipson to get free of the icy water.
“Luckily, we have one town selectman and one firefighter who are horse wranglers,” Burr said. “They were able to get a rope on it and side by side helped the horse step out of the hole.”
Prince, who was visibly weak from his time in the water, according to Strandell, was freed around 1 p.m. and was walked back to their new home.
“They were covered in mud,” Strandell said. “I brushed them down; there is nothing broken and nothing ripped.”
The horse owner said he’s happy to have his draft horses back safe and sound, and that no one got hurt rescuing them.
“It could have been way worse,” Strandell said.
The two horses had been delivered to Strandell around 4 p.m. Saturday and joined a mule named Bird.
“Only those two escaped,” Strandell said. “They left their other friend behind. Bird stayed in the yard and never moved. She knew better, I guess.”
After the draft horses were cleaned off and warmed with blankets, Strandell headed out to fix his fence.