LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - First responders have successfully freed a mounted police horse after it was trapped in an open utility hole near Lexington's E 6th Street.
The horse, named Yoder, is 17 years old and is in his second year with the Lexington Police Department.
Yoder and his partner were with five other horses from the Mounted Unit, on their way to participate in the annual Lexington Christmas parade, when the incident happened around 6:30 p.m. Officials said Yoder's shoe was wedged inside a cast iron pipe.
"I'm sad, man. This horse was in the line of duty for the police department, doing his job, and he comes into this seriously unfortunate accident," said Tamela Compton, who lives nearby.
The Lexington Fire Department, the city’s Division of Streets & Roads, and three veterinarians all responded to the scene. Rescuers set up an A-frame system designed to capture the horse's weight. Veterinarians sedated the animal to keep him calm and prevent further injury.
"Once the vets get here and we get that horse sedated and calmed down, then there's a lot better chance that horse is going to much better after we get him out of the hole," said Lexington Fire Department Battalion Chief Chris Ward.
First responders chipped away at the road and eventually pulled the entire pipe up out of the roadway still around the horse's leg. Yoder was placed on his side and his shoe was removed from the hoof, allowing the pipe to slide off.
Police officers expressed gratitude for the men and women who worked for hours to free Yoder.
"Our animals are not pets," said Lexington Police Lt. Nate Muller. "Our horses aren't pets, our dogs aren't pets, but they are a big part of our family. We rely on them not just for our job - our lives often depend on the quality of the animals that we have."
Yoder was taken to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, where x-rays revealed his leg was not broken. Police said he was standing and eating by 9:30 p.m. He was to stay at the hospital overnight for monitoring.
The officer riding the horse was not injured in the accident, according to police.