Horse Is Rescued From Backyard Pool

LINCOLNTON, N.C. (AP) -- It's bad enough when the neighborhood kids show up in your pool unannounced. When it's the neighbor's horse, that's a matter for the fire department, a veterinarian and a host of helpers, Paul and Virginia Rhyne discovered.

The Rhynes were setting out for a leisurely Sunday breakfast with their grandson and his friends when the boys found Hickory, a 10-year-old Tennessee Walking Horse.

``The boys ran around and said `You've got a horse in the pool!','' Virginia Rhyne said.

Hickory, who belongs to neighbors Scott and Marni Carpenter, apparently had gotten out of her pasture overnight and strayed into the pool. Two of the Carpenters' other horses were watching Hickory from the pool's edge.

The Rhynes said they think the horse mistook their pool's canvas cover for solid ground. When she tried to walk on it, she sank into 10-to-12 feet of cold water.

Worried that the canvas would break and the horse would sink, Virginia Rhyne, her grandson and his friends attempted without success to lure Hickory to the shallow end.

``Right away we knew we couldn't cope with it,'' Virginia Rhyne said. They called the Carpenters, who dialed 911.

Within minutes, a volunteer firefighter was on the scene, Scott Carpenter said. Soon, the crowd of rescuers had swelled to about 50, Virginia Rhyne said.

Due to the layout of the Rhynes' backyard, it was impossible to get a fire truck near the pool.

With the help of a veterinarian and some folks who dove in the pool _ two in wet suits _ it was decided that the 1,000-pound horse would be sedated before a rescue was tried.

Hickory's feet were tied and she was given a shot. Rescuers soothed the horse by rubbing her nose and talking to her.

Firefighters used hoses to create a makeshift harness for Hickory, then pulled her out on a count of three.

She was awake and wobbling around within 15 minutes and soon was back to normal. By Sunday afternoon, she was resting in her stable.

``She's great, she's perfect, everything is fine,'' said Scott Carpenter, who thinks Hickory got out when someone left the gate to her pasture open.

He said he plans to replace the Rhynes' pool cover.

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