Missing for over 15 hours earlier in January, a six-year-old pony was found submerged completely up to his head in a farm slurry pit. Several stories have circulated about a wild pony eluding police and running loose; but they are about a Shetland pony. Prince is a piebald gelding pony whose rescue story hit the press Jan. 28 and 29 – further details are available in the referenced sources. The little horse managed to get out of his paddock in Pentyrch [near Cardiff, England]. Nikki Wilcox, 41, her daughter Chloe and neighbors David and Katy Haines and Debbie Evans found Prince missing and alerted nearby farms to be on the lookout for him. They notified local police and their horse warden that the small piebald pony had gone missing. Together with help from neighboring farm, they set out on a concerted search for Prince. They searched proximate yards and paddocks hoping that Prince had visited other horses and somehow got through their fencing. Prince’s story has been published along the way with mistaken identity but has now, as of Jan. 28 and 29, through these referenced sources been
At one point the searchers heard a faint “groaning” and finally found Prince. They followed the sounds and came across a frightening scene and the nearly-dead pony. Prince somehow got mired in a farm slurry pit, a really large hole in which manure, biodegradable matter, hay, rain water and other compostable material is dumped and turned into fertilizer over time. Decompositions in the slurry pit produce harmful gases such as methane, carbon dioxide, ammonia and hydrogen sulphide. The dangers are obvious, death from drowning/suffocation and the inhalation of lethal gases. Wilcox was understandably worried because Prince’s life was in serious danger and he was facing certain death unless he could be rescued quickly.
They got a rope around Prince’s head to keep it above the sludge and contacted emergency authorities and a veterinarian at B and N Equine. Everyone knew that time to get Prince out was short, possibly less than an hour. But with the help of a tractor, emergency crews pulled Prince out of the pit. He was shaken and weak, and by the next morning, his health had worsened.
For the next several days, Wilcox was caring for a very sick pony. There is no telling how long Prince breathed in toxic fumes in the muck pit, and he had sustained a number of injuries including a serious one to his back leg and rope abrasions during the rescue. Prince also developed eye ulcers, two in one eye and one in the other, requiring intense treatment to save his eyesight. He fluctuated daily between improving and declining health until, finally, he began to stabilize. He now seems to be on a steady mend.
Wilcox had experienced a tough week before Prince escaped from his paddock. She said,
I’d broken my shoulder the day before after falling off a horse and cart so I just had to stand on the sidelines and watch. My daughter Chloe was hysterical so I had to hold it together and be calm.
Wilcox said that Prince is usually friendly but for now he seems to be down in spirit, staying back in the stable, holding his head low.
Everyone hopes Prince comes safely out of this horrible experience.