March 2010
by Elisa Harvey

Sometimes it is hard to understand when a terrible thing happens, until in the aftermath something incredible and wonderful unfolds. That is exactly what happened on Sunday February 7th around noon in Ashton (Montgomery County) at the intersection of the Routes 108 and 650. My son Alex and I were enjoying a wonderful ride through the snow on the beautiful sunny day. We rode our two Norwegian Fjord Horses through Sandy Spring and Ashton before much plowing had occurred or many cars were around. Just past Sherwood High School I noticed some blood on the left front leg and belly of Alex’s horse Ture, and within seconds the profuse bleeding made it obvious that he had severed the artery (cut his leg below the fetlock on something (we never learned what caused the cut below the fetlock). I guided us into the parking lot next to the 7-Eleven, and then pulled off my scarf to form a tourniquet as best I could, but it was obvious that would not be enough.

That’s when the miracle started to happen. People I didn’t even know started to appear to help. There were so many I don’t think I even got all of their names. My new heroes are farriers Cowboy Glen and Brian Henry, who were first on the scene and used duct tape and rubber tubing to make a stronger tourniquet. We couldn’t move the horses or get the trailer at home, so I called my vet, Dr. Anna Dechtiaruk of Damascus Equine Associates. She was trapped at her house near Sunshine so Brian volunteered to go and get her while Glen held the tourniquet. Another bystander, dentist Dr. Joseph, contacted friend and equine veterinarian Dr. Wendy Walker in Brookeville, but she was stuck too – so someone went to fetch her!

The cell phone calls were flying and many people were gathering to do anything they could to help. A woman named Kathi called to ask her friend Kyle Jossi, a well known member of TROT, to come and help since Kyle is a “horse person.” She brought halters and grain. Three girls living nearby, one of them named Aliana, went to get carrots for the horses. Glen soothed Ture while Kathi and others tried to help me stay calm. When Dr. Anna arrived the parking lot was full of blood but she calmly went to work right there, tranquilizing Ture and performing surgery on the spot to ligate the artery and sew up the cut. As I recall, Dr. Arroyo even assisted!

Meanwhile, Brian coordinated borrowing a horse trailer from Bartley Trailers – and then fetching it himself all on the snowy, icy roads. My friend and teacher Vanessa Swartz from Windsor Manor Stables (Sandy Spring) arrived to help. She called Erica Greenwald of Iron Bridge Hunt Pony Club and both Erica and Aliana independently called Rumsey Keefe of Avalon Farms right up the road to see if the horses could go there temporarily until the roads were clear back to my house and barn in Sandy Spring. With no hesitation or notice and barely any information at all, Rumsey agreed. Dr. Walker arrived with more bandaging supplies and medications if needed. Then the horse trailer arrived and a small army of people then helped load our anxious horses onto the unfamiliar stock trailer, and off we went to Rumsey’s, where the horses were made very comfortable right away. Brian returned the trailer to Bartley’s, and then even drove us home through the unplowed snow! As we drove by 7-Eleven on the way home, we found Cowboy Glen cleaning up.

There were dozens of people who took hours out of their day to help a horse in distress. Many of them didn’t know us and those members of the equine community who did know us had other plans for that afternoon – but that didn’t stop any of them from doing everything they possibly could to prevent Ture from bleeding to death. I am so overwhelmed with gratitude for all of these extraordinary people for everything they did that day. All I can offer is a most heartfelt thank you from the bottom of my heart, and apologize for not getting everyone’s name in the chaos of the moment. I will remember this day for the rest of my life, not because of the potentially catastrophic injury that Ture suffered, but because of the miraculous response of the many people who stepped in to help a horse and his boy.

I also wanted to let everyone know that Ture has recovered well and is back to his usual mischievous self. We got him home from Rumsey’s just in time for the second blizzard and he is now comfortable in his own stall. We can watch him from our window again.