DOUBLE OAK, Texas - A horse that was pulled out of waist-deep mud in Denton County earlier this week did not survive. Bella’s owners said she was a therapy horse that will be greatly missed.
Jilien Harvey, an instructor at Unbridled Horse Therapy, said Bella was in the organization’s back pasture overnight Saturday and somehow slid down an embankment into the thick mud near a pond.
"We don't know how long she was back there, but it could have been 12 hours by the time we found her in the morning during our 7 a.m. feed time prior to lessons beginning," Harvey said.
Bella was a 22-year-old Belgian draft horse that typically provided therapy for older children and adults at Unbridled Horse Therapy. (Unbridled Horse Therapy)
Bella was part of Unbridled Horse Therapy’s team of equine therapy horses. She provided emotional and physical therapy for children and adults facing challenges because of autism, mental health issues, cerebral palsy, ADHD, anxiety, and other disabilities.
"Horse therapy is essential to a lot of our clients’ communication skills, social emotional health, and provides them a place to come weekly where they can bond with our horses," Harvey explained. "The loss of Bella affects us as she was an integral part of our herd providing lessons daily for our riders."
Firefighters with the Double Oak Volunteer Fire Department and the Denton County Emergency Services District worked hard to free Bella from mud that was up to her belly. They used shovels to dig her out and ropes to pull her to safety.
Double Oak Volunteer Firefighters help rescue a horse that was stuck in thick mud up to her belly. (Double Oak Volunteer Fire Department)
Veterinarians tried to get the 22-year-old Belgian draft horse back onto her feet after she was rescued but unfortunately, they could not. One of her legs was injured and Unbridled Horse Therapy had to make the difficult decision to end her suffering.
"This story is extra sad because one of our horses died unexpectedly in late May when he developed colic. Having to explain to our riders that have established a bond with our horses twice in 10 weeks that another horse they loved has passed away makes this entire situation very difficult," Harvey said.
Unbridled Horse Therapy set up a GoFundMe page to help cover the cost of the vet bills for both horses.
It also thanked the firefighters who spent hours trying to save Bella and ended up waist-deep in mud themselves.
"The Denton County first responders and Double Oak Volunteer Fire Department that spent countless hours helping us during this ordeal and checked on us after several times was nothing short of amazing," Harvey said.
The organization will need to reschedule some of its lessons until a new horse is added to the herd.