West Tisbury firefighters and police used ingenuity and a fire hose to rescue Max, a 19-year-old retired thoroughbred race horse, that had fallen into a half-filled swimming pool at a home on Mott’s Hill Road, off Merry Farm Road Friday morning.
Sgt. Jeffrey “Skipper” Manter, police chief Dan Rossi, and West Tisbury fire lieutenant Jesse Oliver were among the first people on the scene. Sgt. Manter held the horse’s rope halter to keep the animal calm as he stood in the cold water.
A little humor cut the tension.
“If you pull this off,” chief Rossi said to Sgt. Manter, “I’ll put you in for a commendation — Sgt. horse whisperer.”
Despite a lot of chirping and coaxing, Sgt. Manter could not convince Max to climb the steps at the shallow end of the pool.
Once a West Tisbury fire truck arrived, firefighters draped a large hose across the pool. Walking on both sides of the pool firefighters gently brought it up to the horse’s hind quarters. When Max felt a little pressure from behind, he made an initial splashy attempt to get up the pool stairs. After standing for a few more seconds, Max tried again. On his second attempt, he scrambled and thrashed his way up the steps in a few very scary seconds.
“I’ve seen these end not well,” West Tisbury animal control officer Joannie Jenkinson said.
Max stood at the top of the steps, quietly dripping and shivering.
“Nicely done,” Chief Rossi said.
In a telephone call Friday afternoon Samantha Cooperrider, Max’s owner, she said he appeared to be uninjured, just cold and tired. Max and her two other horses live a short distance away, on Ben Chase Road.
“The horses broke through the fence,” she said. “Two came running back. He’s the least likely to go on an adventure, so I knew something was wrong when he didn’t come back.”
Ms. Cooperrider is a veterinary technician and accustomed to emergency situations involving animals. She found Max and called emergency responders.
She said the first responders got there very quickly. “Jesse Oliver was very helpful, he just kind of listened to my suggestions, and organized everybody,” she said.
“I was just hoping no one would give up pushing him,” Ms. Cooperrider said. “I knew he was going to scramble out and it wasn’t going to be pretty, I just didn’t want anyone to get upset and stop hauling. It’s disturbing to see such a big animal flailing around. I was really happy to see everyone pulling and popping him right out of there.”