A search-and-rescue horse whose front hooves got caught in the space between timbers on a bridge in Hudson eventually fell on his rider, but authorities say horse and human will survive their injuries.

The incident happened around 3 p.m. Sunday on the wooden bridge on the Wilder Davis Road in Hudson, a small Penobscot County town west of Old Town.

Yukon became trapped between the boards of the bridge after he was spooked. Photo courtesy of Ashley Norman

Ashley Norman said she was kneeling next to Yukon and holding the animal’s head to keep him calm when he keeled over from exhaustion and landed on her and a friend. Norman suffered a broken leg and her friend Tammy Elsenheimer, who came to the remote trail to help her, had a broken hand.

Yukon, who is 12 years old and weighs about 1,000 pounds, had been trapped between the bridge timbers for about an hour when he suddenly collapsed.

“He was exhausted and collapsed,” Norman said in a telephone interview Monday evening from Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

Norman, who lives in Bradford, said she was out on a leisurely trail ride with Yukon in Hudson when they came to a bridge over a stream. Norman said the bridge did not look safe, so she stopped before reaching it, but something spooked Yukon and the horse “jumped onto the bridge.”

That is when Yukon’s front hooves became wedged in the space between the bridge’s timbers. Norman said she called Elsenheimer, who agreed to bring her horse trailer to the area, before she dialed 911. A dispatcher for the Penobscot Regional Communications Center contacted the Hudson Fire and Rescue Department, which responded to the scene.

Emergency responders help pull Yukon from the bridge Sunday in Hudson. The horse has been relocated to a nearby farm, where he will be cared for until his owner recovers. Photo courtesy of Ashley Norman

Emergency responders were in the process of developing a rescue plan when the horse “unexpectedly fell over onto the rider.”

“The rider and her friend both suffered non-life threatening injuries” and were transported to EMMC “after receiving care on scene,” the Hudson Fire and Rescue Department posted on its Facebook page.

Tanja Ebel, a veterinarian with Apple Creek Equine Rescue in Carmel, also responded. She is Yukon’s regular veterinarian.

“I didn’t see Yukon today, but I’m told he is doing fine,” Ebel said Monday. “He has been eating and drinking.”

She said the horse suffered a few scrapes and bruises but is expected to make a full recovery.

Yukon has been relocated to a nearby farm, where he will be cared for until Norman has made a full recovery from her leg injury.

Yukon’s legs were scratched and bruised by the wooden timbers. Photo courtesy of Ashley Norman

On Sunday, Ebel tranquilized the horse so that its hooves could be safely removed from the bridge. Rescuers placed a fireman’s jacket over Yukon’s head to keep the horse calm. Ebel said firefighters used a chainsaw to cut the wooden timbers and free Yukon.

“Once the horse was sedated, a piece of the bridge was cut away and the horse was freed from the bridge. The horse suffered only minor injuries,” the fire department posted on Facebook. Crews remained on the scene until the horse regained consciousness and was loaded onto a horse trailer.

Firefighters later patched the bridge where the horse fell through.

Norman said Yukon is a member of the Maine Mounted Search and Rescue team. The team is the state’s only mounted search-and-rescue unit. Its mission is to search for people lost or missing in Maine.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

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