ALLEGAN COUNTY. — A horse is recovering well after a frightening situation last Friday. Misty, one of the horses at Mary's Country Critters petting zoo, fell through the ice on a small pond near their pasture.
Mary Tegethoff has run Mary's Country Critters from her 50 acre property in Wayland since 2004, providing a space for educational outings and events where kids can interact with animals.
"I just kinda wanted to create a safe place where kids can come and be kids," Mary told FOX 17.
It was last Friday morning when Mary looked out from one of her barns and saw one of her beloved horses stuck in a pond.
"I could hear splash, crash, splash, and I looked over here and said, oh no Misty."
Mary tried getting Misty to safety herself.
"I went and got a lead rope and tried to get her out, but after about 15 minutes, you realize you're not going to be able to get her out of there."
And so she called 911— and as if it were simply meant to be, the man who responded to the call was Deputy James Kimber, who previously spent 12 years as part of the Allegan County Sheriff's mounted division.
Having worked with horses for much of his life, this was the first time Deputy Kimber found himself having to rescue one from an icy pond.
“She told me she thought it was about 5 inches thick, and the horse was coming up on her withers, which is about shoulder height on a horse, and she didn’t know how long that the horse had been in there,” Deputy Kimber told FOX 17.
“When I first got there and walked to the edge, you could see ripples coming off of her, she was shaking so bad when you were up close. So I knew she was in rough shape.”
The Wayland Fire Department's dive team arrived on scene just minutes after Deputy Kimber.
"Those guys are my heroes," Deputy Kimber said. "I mean, they had the chainsaw out, we evaluated everything."
They cut a 'V' shape in the ice, leading away from the horse's chest. After they cleared the large chunks of ice blocking her way out of the pond, they were able to gently coax her out.
“I think she knew. She just stopped still, didn’t even try to move when they were breaking the ice, and waited 'til we coaxed her and called her by name to get her to start coming.”
Misty was then able to pull herself out with the crew members assistance.
“It just worked out, everything worked out," Deputy Kimber said.
Misty was taken directly into a horse stall and covered in blankets to get her temperature back up.
"When came back out, we took her temperature and it was 97, so she couldn’t have been in there very long, because a normal horse's temperature is 100," Mary said.
But after 2 days of recovery time, Mary says that Misty was eager to get back out and join the other horses in their field.
Deputy Kimber says he will be swinging by Mary's Country Critter's in the near future.
“I'm definitely going to stop by and say hey to Mary, and give Misty a couple extra rubs, you know, definitely,” he told FOX 17.
Mary says she feels so grateful for the way things turned out— thanking Jesus that Misty is safe, as well as every single member of the team that came out to her property to help rescue her.
She asked to share several thank yous to people in her life who have made it possible for Mary's Country Critters to survive through the pandemic— Joyce & Bob Farrish, Jessica & Alexis Opperman, Morgan & Jeremiah Ritter, and to Julie Fox.
Mary is always looking for volunteers to help her with keeping up the farm and pens. You can find out more information about volunteering opportunities at her website.