A wild horse stuck and starving in a bog west of Sundre has been rescued by wild horse advocates.
Darrell Glover, of Help Alberta Wildies Society, said it was pure luck four members found the filly, whose hind quarters and most of her back were submerged in mud.
“This was a first for us. We usually just get to see the bones of the previous victims, and there are lots of bones out there from horses stuck in the bogs,” Glover said.
The 45-minute rescue Wednesday required winches to gently free the two-year-old horse. The team considers winches part of their standard equipment when roaming the area to check on the horse population.
He said the horse’s hind legs were embedded straight down in the deep bog and she was hypothermic by the time she was pulled out.
“It took a while for her to get her circulation going and get her back legs under her again.”
He said at first, the horse was a little fearful of her rescuers as they carefully approached.
“After that, she was not the least bit concerned about us. What she wanted us to do was pull her ahead a little bit so she could get some more grass. She was starving. She had eaten everything within her reach when she was stuck.”
Even as they pulled her loose, she strained to eat nearby grass.
“We stuck around for almost an hour to make sure she was going to make it. She stayed within 30 feet of where we pulled her out and just continued to eat — she was that hungry.”
Glover said bogs develop in low lying drain areas from the foothills and often contain underlying streams. Horses are drawn to bogs in the late winter and early spring to eat the grass left over from summer.
“They take advantage of the frost and firmness of the bog to get in there. Unfortunately, some of the spots aren’t as secure as others.”
He said bogs aren’t the only threat to wild horses. Spring foals have started to arrive, but throughout the year, horses die natural deaths from colic, starvation, injury, as well as predators such as grizzlies and wolves.
The society members found 10 dead horses in the past month, and happened upon the filly on Wednesday while checking on a nearby horse carcass. They spotted a black bear feeding on the remains.
Glover said he will be back out on Saturday to look for the rescued filly they named Faith.
The Sundre equine zone reportedly has the largest concentration of wild horses in Alberta, with about 1,000.