ELLENSBURG, Wash. — Cheryl Ann Cosand’s morning March 28 started out like any other. Wake up, make coffee, let the dog out. As she sat with her morning coffee, however, she sensed something was wrong.
“I don’t know if you believe in God,” she said. “Something inside me told me I had to rush down to the pen and check on Rusty.”
Rusty, her 20-year old quarter horse, had slipped on the ice and snow in his pen in the early morning hours. He managed to wedge his body between the built-up ice and the steel bars of his pen. He was on his side with his hooves up in the air and had been clearly struggling to right himself for some time. In his struggle, he had managed to wedge his head underneath the bars.
“He had no option,” Cosand said. “He couldn’t even save himself.”
Cosand estimates that Rusty had been trapped for about four hours. His eye was swollen shut from thrashing against the pen bars. After summoning a neighbor to help, she contacted her veterinarian who told her that if Rusty didn’t get a shot of Banamine, he could die of colic. Cosand lives in Sunlight Waters off of Interstate 90. She rushed to Cle Elum to get the shot and when she returned, she was informed that it would be 45 minutes before a veterinarian could make it to help Rusty. That’s when she decided to call 911.
“It was an emergency,” she said. “I needed help. I needed physical people to help me.”
After informing dispatch of the situation, she said two officers arrived in an unmarked vehicle and asked how they could help. She didn’t recognize the uniforms and knew they must have been from out of town. The officers, along with Cosand, her husband and the neighbor were able to get the 1,400-pound horse on his feet.
“We were just holding him up and letting him get his balance,” she said.
Rusty was covered in sweat and shaking terribly, but between the shot and the collective effort to get him standing, he survived and is comfortably recovering at home now.
“It was just amazing,” she said. “There’s just no words I can use to tell you how much it meant to us. It took a village to save this horse.”
Cosand said she intends on building panels at the bottom of the pen to prevent him from getting trapped again, as well as maintaining a shot of Banamine on hand and always bringing a phone with her when she makes her rounds. She said Rusty is doted on by all her neighbors, as many of them can’t have horses of their own.
“Everybody in this community loves Rusty,” she said. “They stop and love on him. He’s just a good old boy and he lives the life of luxury.”
The two first responders in the unmarked vehicle turned out to be Washington State Patrol troopers from the Bellevue detachment. Trooper Michael Porter and his partner were in Kittitas County on active patrol so that Kittitas County Sheriff’s deputies could attend the memorial service for Deputy Ryan Thompson.
“We’re all brothers and sisters in this,” he said. “We definitely look out for each other. We were more than happy to help out so that they could take the appropriate time they needed with their family and friends to get through this tough process.”
As part of the Bellevue detachment, Porter said his usual duties include investigating accidents and arresting people for driving under the influence. Getting his uniform muddy while helping rescue a trapped horse was a first for him in his law enforcement career.
“We definitely enjoyed the experience,” he said. “We found it different and rewarding all at the same time.”