Harley the horse was put down at age 34 after a dramatic rescue in Powder Springs on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018.
Photo: Cobb County Fire & Emergency Services
Photo: Cobb County Fire & Emergency Services

Cobb firefighters rescue Harley the horse, but the stress was too much

Laurie Wilson got the call about 9 a.m. Tuesday. The Cobb County fire department needed her help.

Firefighters didn’t know how long Harley the horse had been stuck in the mud, surrounded by chilly water, but they had to get him out fast.

“He was stuck like quicksand,” she said.

Wilson, the founder of Large Animal Response Group (LARG) and a traveling horse trainer based in Cobb, was called to a small farm in Powder Springs off Macland Road where the owner had called 911 about Harley in her pond.

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Rescuers in wet suits used lances to make air pockets in the mud so they could get his hooves loose and inflated a small boat beneath his rear end.

Harley had Cushing’s disease, a dysfunction of the pituitary gland common in older horses, Wilson said, along with other medical issues that left his back legs weak. 

She said he made one attempt to stand and collapsed.

As firefighters wrote on Facebook: “Once Harley was carefully brought ashore there was optimism that he would be okay. However, he had suffered too great a stress.”

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Wilson said his owner decided for a veterinarian to euthanize Harley right there on the scene.

Harley was 34 years old, an exceptionally old age for such a creature, and stood about 15 hands high weighing 1,000 pounds in his retirement. He was named after Harley-Davidson motorcycles and the owner had him for 27 years, Cobb fire officials said.

Harley’s owner did not immediately return a call for comment.

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