Imagine opening your front door in the middle of the night and seeing a drowning horse 40 feet from your house? One family found themselves in this exact predicament after one of the homeowners, Colleen Shepherd, heard strange noises outside her home in Murwillumbah in New South Wales, Australia. Colleen immediately woke up her husband Leigh and her son Rob and the three of them saw quite an interesting sight. Leigh and Rob jumped into action and went to work trying to rescue the drowning horse. Little did they know the horse belonged to the homeowner who lived four houses down the street.
Leigh and Rob walked out their front door and shined a flashlight in the direction of the noise. Soon they found themselves standing in front of a horse who was drowning in flooding waters. He was trying to swim but was quickly being caught under by the rising water.
After Collen said that she was going to go out and brave the floodwaters herself, Leigh stepped in and grabbed a boogie board and headed toward the struggling horse. He then placed the horses head on the boogie board, grabbed her by the mane and led her back to the house. Just when they thought they were in the clear and the horse was closer to safety, she turned around and moved in the opposite direction of the house, fearing the rising water that was close to their front door. Leigh refused to give up and he tried to use a whip to wrap around her neck, but he had difficulties securing it.
Rob then stepped in and came up with the idea of using an extension chord to corral the horse back to the house. This idea proved to be effective and with Rob and Leigh’s physical strength, the two of them were about to heft the 25-year-old horse up and onto the 4-foot-landing at the bottom of the staircase near the front door of the house.
“Once we got her up on that landing, she just collapsed,” said Leigh. “The waters were still rising so we just got her up on that boogie board and kept it under her head. I don’t know how we did it but I’m so glad we did.
Now they were tasked with the biggest challenge. They took turns holding the horses head up above water on the boogie board from 1:30am until 6:30am when rescue workers arrived on the scene. The two men had to wade in the freezing cold waters while they held her head up, but they didn’t give up. There was a point when Rob thought that she wasn’t going to survive, but Leigh pushed him forward and kept the two going.
Believe it or not, the horse, who they later found out is named “Tilly,” only suffered a laceration on one of her front legs. Rescue workers were there the next morning to treat her and they gave Leigh and Rob major props for saving Tilly’s life.