WHIDBEY ISLAND STATION, Wash. — When the Lang family came out to check on their horses Wednesday morning, they immediately knew something was wrong.
"My daughter came out to feed them this morning," said owner Karl Lang. "We have five horses and she only saw four."
A family horse named Blaze somehow broke through a barrier and fell down a 15-foot well near Highway 20.
North Whidbey Fire and Rescue said the horse fell in around 10 a.m. from an area just north of the naval station near the northwest corner of the island.
Rescue crews knew the horse was in deep trouble.
"It's not something we do every day," said North Whidbey Fire & Rescue Chief John Clark. "Usually we get people out of places, not horses."
Rescue workers from the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station dropped into the well head first to sedate the horse.
North Whidbey and Central Whidbey Fire & Rescue crews also helped to get the 2,000-pound animal into a harness.
When it came to lifting Blaze out of the hole, rescue crews were in luck. A neighbor was nearby with an excavator to hoist the horse to safety and into the care of local veterinarians. He was out of the well by 12:25 p.m.
"I was happy to hear the horse was breathing and looking up," said Lang. "That was the main thing."
Within a few minutes, Blaze was awake, on his feet and receiving an IV. A few minor cuts on his legs appeared to be the extent of his injuries.
Those involved in the rescue said it was very fortunate Blaze fell into the well tail first, or he likely would have broken his neck or drowned.
"If he had gone down any other way he wouldn't be alive," Lang said. "Luckily he went down heinie first."
Lang believes the well dates back to 1912 when his farm was first established. He said it was covered up and protected by a barricade, and he had no idea something like this could happen.
"We will never have this problem again, I guarantee that," Lang said.
Veterinarians are continuing to keep a close eye on Blaze to make sure he doesn't have any internal injuries. For now, though, it looks like he will be just fine.