JAMUL (CNS) - Emergency crews and animal-welfare workers today rescued a horse who tumbled about 100 feet down a steep slope in the eastern San Diego County back country, and then had to spend the night injured in a remote ravine.
Eight-year-old Dobby slipped and fell off a trail near state Route 94 and Honey Springs Road shortly after 6 p.m. Sunday as his owner's daughter was riding him with a group of companions aboard horses and a mule in the Hollenbeck Canyon area of Jamul, according to Cal Fire and the San Diego Humane Society.
Dobby's rider was able to jump off of him, suffering only minor cuts and bruises, as he went over the edge of the rugged embankment, said Brent Pascua, a fire captain with the state agency.
While emergency personnel were en route, the injured horse's owner made her way down to him and tried to stop his bleeding with padding material she removed from her riding helmet, Humane Society spokeswoman Nina Thompson said.
When firefighters got to Dobby -- who had suffered lacerations to his belly and cuts, including one down to the bone, on two of his legs -- they replaced the makeshift dressings with pressure bandages.
After responding to the emergency along with Cal Fire and the county Department of Animal Services, eight members of the SDHS Emergency Response Team hiked down the hillside to the spot where Dobby had wound up, a trek of about five miles.
Finding the ailing horse stranded on the brushy slope above a creek bed, they walked him down to level terrain across a stream that runs through the gulley. They then hiked back out of the ravine, putting the rescue on hold due to the onset of darkness.
About 1 a.m., the team went back down into the gorge to check on the animal and provide him with food, water and a blanket.
Shortly after sunrise, the rescuers returned to Dobby along with a veterinarian, who evaluated the horse's wounds. The group initially hoped to airlift him from the gorge, but, discovering that no emergency-services helicopter was available, realized they had to lead him out by ground.
``During a four-hour effort, they walked the horse back in tough terrain to the staging area up top, where Cal Fire and (Animal Services personnel) were on standby,'' Thompson said.
A veterinarian then re-bandaged Dobby's wounds, after which his owner, a Ramona resident, loaded him into a trailer for a trip to a North County veterinary critical-care facility.
One of the riders present when the accident occurred had previously ridden the trail and believed that Dobby's fall may have occurred due to erosion of the pathway during recent rainstorms, Thompson said. Throughout his ordeal, the injured horse remained calm, much to the relief of his rescuers, the spokeswoman noted.
``We hope Dobby will make a full recovery,'' Thompson said. ``Our (emergency team) members say they are very impressed by his ability to maneuver the tough terrain while injured.''
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