When you imagine a horse ride along the beach, it’s usually one of carefree joy, the wind in your hair, the fresh smell of the sea breeze, and the warm sun on your face. But it turns out, sometimes beaches can be a dangerous place for a horse.
One day in 2012, Nicole Graham and her daughter Paris, were riding horses along the beach near Geelong, Australia.
Suddenly the sand below their feet turned into a muddy trap.
“I’ve been riding here for 20 years and never had a drama,” Graham told Daily Mail. “I’ve never seen any signs and didn’t realize it was so boggy.”
Graham helped Paris and her horse escape, yet Graham’s horse, Astro, was still stuck in the muck. So, she stayed by his side with an arm around his neck, to soothe him so he didn’t struggle and slip in further.
“I knew that, if I stayed with him, he wouldn’t panic either and him not panicking meant that we would both get out ok,” Graham told Channel 9 News.
Three hours later, Astro was about to suffocate. He could’ve easily died of thirst or fatigue. To make matters worse, the tide was on its way in.
Luckily, Paris had called for help. A rescue team and veterinarian, Stacey Sullivan, showed up and offered their assistance. A helicopter pilot also showed up, just in case an air lift was the only way out.
The veterinarian injected Astro with a sedative to prevent him from panicking.
Throughout all this, Graham continued to offer Astro words of encouragement.
With the tide rushing in, it was a race against the clock. The rescue team attempted to dig him out, but the ground had become too soft. Fortunately, a farmer showed up with an enormous tractor, which they attached to the horse via rope.
Pulling the horse along, they were able to get him out of the sandpit.
Hours of stress and the sedatives had taken their toll on Astro. He struggled to stay on his feet, though eventually he got up and stayed upright.
“A lot of horses don’t make it and I think without the owner there the chance of survival would have been a lot lower,” Dr. Sullivan told The Daily Mail.
Graham and Astro faced a sea of trouble that day, but they ended up making it out just fine. Why? Because Graham’s love for Astro is as deep as the ocean.