Crews in Princeton rescue 'Breeze' the horse from cold swamp after falling through ice

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Warmer weather this week has spurred “thin ice” warnings across the state. And on Wednesday in Princeton, crews responded to a rescue unlike most others. It wasn’t a car or snowmobile under the water, it was a horse. 

Her name is “Breeze,” though rescuing her was anything but. Video from a chilly afternoon shows her almost up to her ears in muddy water. 

Katie Bialka noticed her mom’s horse was missing Wednesday afternoon. After searching the property for two hours with her family, they found her. 

“We all heard him. He just yelled ‘I found her! I found her!’ and instantly my heart dropped,” Bialka said.

Breeze got her name because she had always been so easygoing. But apparently, the five-year-old horse wanted to show off her wild side. Breeze had somehow escaped, falling through thin ice in a swamp so deep she couldn’t even move her feet. 

“I walk up there and she's all the way up to her back in the swamp and I just felt so helpless. There was no way we could push her out or pull her,” Bialka said. 

So they called in backup. A dozen members of Princeton Fire and Rescue showed up, along with doctors from Anoka Equine Veterinary Services. Together, they put straps around Breeze’s body. They hoisted and pushed. After many attempts over more than an hour, Breeze mustered one last try and jumped out. 

“The emphasis on all of this is that it was a village that got her out,” said Dr. Zach Loppnow with Anoka Equine Veterinary Services.

Breeze was shivering. She had spent at least four hours in the cold water. They took her to a heated garage and warmed her with fresh blankets and blow dryers. The veterinarians filled her belly with warm water, bringing her body temperature back up from inside and out.

Dr. Loppnow says her age and energy may be why she survived. 

“Part of that initial assessment coming on scene is figuring out how much energy and how many tries that horse really has in them. Some only have one or two, she had several. And you could see that fight in her,” Dr. Loppnow said. 

Once in recovery, Breeze got a lot of love and even a little pampering. Her mane was styled in braids as she quickly returned to her usual breezy self. 

“She's definitely had her five seconds of fame, for sure,” Bialka said. 

Two days after the incident, Breeze is eating and drinking as normal and ready to get back out to play with the other horses.