Crews rescue horse stuck in muddy water at Cherry Creek State Park

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ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — Emergency crews worked for more than two hours Thursday to rescue a horse that sunk in muddy water at Cherry Creek State Park and got stuck.

Crews from South Metro Fire Rescue tweeted updates as they worked to save the horse.

Officials said more than a dozen personnel hiked about 400 yards off the trail to help the horse.

The horse, named Cupcake, is 13 years old and was “very tired,” South Metro Fire said.

“It was emotional,” South Metro Fire spokesman Eric Hurst, said. “I mean, you could see it in the firefighters faces.”

“It’s definitely a life-or-death situation,” Cupcake’s veterinarian Dale Rice said after responding to the scene. “That horse either had to stand up and get out of there or be helicoptered out.”

Rice gave Cupcake IV fluids, steroids and vitamins.

Eventually, Cupcake found the strength to stand up, with the help of rescue crews.

“Cupcake didn’t want to give up,” Rice said. “You could see it in her eyes. … There was a lot of screaming and yelling and excitement.”

Cupcake is now a survivor thanks to strangers like Doug Hammack, who works at the nearby 12 Mile Stables.

“I’m just a guy that could help and did help,” Hammack said. “It’s hard to see a horse go through that. We’re all horse lovers out here and it was a very powerful experience to get her out of that mud.”

“She stopped shivering, her heart rate came down. I knew she was good,” Rice said.


Cupcake will stay with Rice for a couple of days of monitoring to make sure she stays hydrated.

He hoped it serves as a reminder for horse owners to stay on familiar trails.

“That’s mud back there and horses aren’t meant to walk in mud,” Rice said.

South Metro tweeted a photo of the brown and white horse lying in the water with its head resting on a woman’s leg.

SkyFOX was over the rescue operation but had to return to the airport to refuel.

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When the horse finally stood up,  a woman in a pink shirt and cowboy hat could be heard saying, “It’s OK, Cupcake, mommy’s here.”

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