When Bev Holzrichter decided to live stream from her farm at KB Hilltop Stables in 2000, she only wanted to share foaling season online with others. Little did she know that the webcam would be key in saving her life later.
“We’ve always had cameras in the barn, and decided to put a stream on the Internet in 2000 because so many people want to share the joy of horses giving birth. I get well over a million hits a year and would say several thousand people could be watching at any one time,” she told CNN.
Holzrichter is a horse breeder who lives in Charlotte, Iowa. Her husband is a truck driver who is often away for days.
In January 2004, her mare Sierra was giving birth. As always, the webcam was on streaming live.
Holzrichter, who was 55 years old at the time, saw on the camera that Sierra was having some difficulties.
According to ABC News, the mare had foaled but the placenta was not expelled yet. Holzrichter decided to go to the barn to check.
“[The expelling] normally happens within an hour of giving birth but two hours had passed so I walked into the stables to check on her. I was on a portable phone, talking to a friend, Wendi, who was in California,” Holzrichter stated.
Wendy Wiener saw the live birth and called to congratulate Holzrichter. How fortuitous that she did otherwise the phone would not have been with Holzrichter when the unexpected happened.
“I hadn’t realized it but another mare, Nifty, had broken down the top half of her door and had gone into Sierra’s stable, wanting to steal her baby,” Holzrichter told CNN.
“As I entered, Sierra was trying to defend her foal and kicked me three times and knocked me over. I couldn’t get back up,” Holzrichter said.
Wiener was on the phone when it happened. She heard a scream and then the phone got cut off. Looking online, Wiener saw the image of Holzrichter hitting the floor.
“I called her back immediately, thank God she had the phone in her hand, and I just kept her on the phone and just kept talking to her,” Wiener said to ABC News.
Anita Bertling of Hazel Green, Wisconsin, another friend of Holzrichter, saw the incident, reported the Quad-City Times.
“I looked up and we all see it at the same time and we all typed, ‘Oh, my God,'” Bertling said. “Wendi had her on the phone, and she typed, ‘Anita, call 911.'”
Calls started to pour in from all parts of the world to the local emergency center.
“People from Germany, the United Kingdom, France—all over the world had phoned the Charlotte Rescue Squad. When the emergency services arrived 45 minutes later, they were very confused about why they had received calls from all over the world about me,” Holzrichter shared to CNN.
The kicks left Holzrichter with ripped tendons in her knee, a pulled femur bone liner and pinched nerves in her elbow, according to the Quad-City Times.
Her husband was not home that day. He was due back a few days later.
If not for the internet, Holzrichter may have lain there for days without help.
“Those people watching are the ones who helped me. If it wasn’t for the technology of the webcam, I’m not sure when I would have been found or what would have happened to me,” Holzrichter stated.
As for Sierra, the incident has not changed the way Holzrichter feels about her.
“In confusion and pain, she got me. But I would never be afraid to be in with that mare,” she said. “I would do it over and over.”