BURGETTSTOWN, Pa. – What makes a horse that has looked across a chasm every day for ten years suddenly put a foot onto a wooden plank bridge and start out for the other side?
Mary Jo Modzelewski isn’t sure what got into the head of the 26-year-old Appaloosa she keeps for a friend, but she is sure glad he wasn’t injured.
Modzelewski, who lives near Burgettstown, Pa., was looking out her kitchen window one Friday afternoon recently when she noticed her horses grouped together close to a wooden footbridge that spans the creek at the edge of their paddock.
They were intensely watching something.
What it turned out to be was Chance, the retired show horse belonging to Joy Kealey that Modzelewski has kept with her herd the last 10 years.
For reasons that Modzelewski can explain only with reference to a “senior moment,” Chance had started out across the bridge that none of her horses had ever once ventured out upon.
Maybe, she said, it was because the bridge was covered with snow and he got confused.
For whatever reason, he had taken it into his head to cross over to the other side.
The old bridge, which Modzelewski said she and her family use all the time with no problems, had some rotten spots which proved not to be strong enough to support the weight of the horse.
Chance found himself down flat, one back leg pushed down through a hole in the bridge, unable to move.
Called for a tow.
When the Hanover Township Volunteer Fire Department arrived, they couldn’t figure out any way to get the horse up either, so they called Green Towing to bring a wrecker.
Modzelewski said she and the firemen covered Chance with blankets, then started rolling him this way and that, gradually working straps under him.
When they had him strapped up, they hooked him up to the tow truck and the horse was pulled up out of the bridge with the winch on the truck.
Doing just fine.
“He’s doing fine,” Modzelewski said. “He had some cuts and bruises and was very stiff and sore the next day. But yesterday he was pushing the other horses away from the feed, so he’s back to his old self.”
Modzelewski said, she has come away from the experience very impressed with the dedication of the firemen and the trouble they were willing to go to to assist her with an emergency that had nothing to do with fighting fires.
And she has decided that just because horses have never gone someplace that is dangerous doesn’t mean they won’t take it in their heads to go there one day. She has put up a fence.