By Christine Churchill, Five Star Ranch Staff Writer
The biggest horse story that came out of The Netherlands in 2006 was the amazing tale of the Great Netherlands Horse Rescue. A group of about 100 horses were stranded on a small piece of land when the waters rose unexpectedly after a fierce storm.
The horses were stranded for three days on a tiny sliver of land. Firemen and animal welfare officers brought the horses food and water to keep up their strength. As wind and icy rain blasted the horses, they huddled together with their rear ends facing the wind. Finally on the third day, the great rescue was made.
The video by Mark Maessen of the horse rescue is incredibly moving. The combination of the horse footage and music will bring happy tears to any horse lover’s eyes. The sound starts about a minute into the video. Mark’s video of the Dutch horse rescue video is below:
I used to live in the Netherlands and I can remember driving up in Friesland in the northern part of the country. As you can imagine the land is very flat and there are areas that the industrious Dutch have reclaimed from the sea. I can also tell you from first hand experience that the winds off the North Sea are incredibly bitter cold.
My heart gives thanks to all the brave and caring people involved in the rescue. Apparently it was quite a feat. Prior to the women riding out, there were a large group of people, both men and women who mapped out a clear path. This involved people having to wade out through the water to make sure there was no underwater debris or fencing that the horses might get caught up in. The area covered with water had barbed wire fences so it was quite treacherous. Once a safe route was established, the four women rode their horses out to lure the other horses into the water.
The rescue is an example of the herd instinct in action. As a horse lover I was very disturbed at the hardships these horses endured and I brought to tears by scenes of the heroic rescue. The BBC has some amazing pictures of the stranded horses.
Also check out this amazing award winning photo of the stranded horses. The white horse in the photo has been described as a symbol of hope. http://www.expatica.com/actual/article.asp?subchannel_id=19&story_id=35412
Although this story has a happy ending, 19 horses died before the rescue occurred. Bless the people who acted to save the remaining horses.
A special thanks goes out to my friend Brendan, a fellow horse lover, who told me about the horses’ plight.