UNION TOWNSHIP | A horse spooked by Fourth of July fireworks broke out of her stall and became stuck on a busy railroad bridge Wednesday evening.
But thanks to quick action by witnesses and neighbors, the approaching Canadian National train was stopped in time for the pregnant horse to be freed from the tracks and led off the bridge.
Mary Stefanski was driving at about 7 p.m. on County Road 375 West over the Canadian National tracks just south of County Road 400 North when she saw the horse lying on the railway bridge just east of the road. She saw the horse raise its head and realized it was stuck.
Stefanski called the Canadian National number posted at the crossing to alert them to the emergency and then the Porter County Sheriff's Department. She also alerted Errol and Connie McLinn, who live next to the tracks.
The McLinns notified their neighbor, Arjen Byvoets, who owns the horse. As they gathered at the scene, they found the horse with its hoof lodged between two railroad ties. In the meantime, the sheriff's department worked with Canadian National officials to make sure that an approaching train was halted.
Bill Pauley, who was visiting a neighboring house, joined the group of a half-dozen using nylon straps to pull the horse and plastic tables to keep the horse from putting another hoof through the ties.
About an hour later, the men were able to get the horse's hoof unstuck, get it upright and finally off the tracks, to the applause of onlookers.
"It was a joint effort ... everybody contributed," Pauley said.
After the rescue, Byvoets led the horse, named Anna, back to the barn she had broken loose from an hour earlier. He bandaged her leg, but didn't believe her injuries were serious. Byvoets said his wife had rescued her from a kill auction last month and he believed she was just days away from giving birth.
Porter County Sheriff's Officer Jamie Erow, who was on hand for the rescue, called it "a good ending for the Fourth."
UPDATE: Arjen Byvoets' wife, Roni, reported to The Times that Anna gave birth at 4 a.m. to a chestnut filly after a very long labor. Both horses are doing well. Come back to nwi.com and read Friday's edition of The Times for more.