We all know the dangers of trail riding in rugged country, but for one horse in Southern California, one bad step nearly cost him his life.

Dobby, an eight-year-old Thoroughbred, and his owner were out hacking the hills in San Diego County when he apparently stepped on a rock and fell 100 feet down a cliff. His rider and owner, Giovanna Reber, managed to dismount before Dobby slide down the hillside. The poor animal was seen to tumble several times before landing in the ravine, unable to get back up.

Reber was terrified that Dobby would be killed. Her mother and aunt, who were also on the ride, climbed down to be with Dobby while Reber and another rider led the other horses back home and called for help.

The good news is the rescue was a success, with a team from the San Diego Humane Society, Border Patrol and Cal Fire San Diego arriving on the scene. The initial plan was for a helicopter rescue but due to cloud cover the team had no choice but to make him comfortable with a blanket, food and water on safer ground overnight, then carefully and slowly lead the injured Dobby out of the ravine the next morning, a four-hour hike upwards. Video taken at the staging area show Dobby being treated.

In a follow-up news report, the gelding spent three nights in an equine hospital but is now at home recovering.


Rescue personnel leading a horse up a mountain.

The upward trek took four hours. (San Diego Humane Society Facebook)


“He doesn’t currently need surgery but it’s very possible that he will down the road at some point,” Reber told the news outlet. “The road to recovery will not be easy but he’s very strong. The vets are being cautious but (have) hope for him to make it.”

Reber told the San Diego Union-Tribute that it was their first time on the trail and they hadn’t known how narrow it would get, and once they got to that point it was impossible to turn around.

A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help offset the costly vet bills. The latest update on Dobby on that page reads:

“Dobby is doing well. His swelling on his legs and stomach is beginning to go down. We are having a hard time with the stitches on his stomach; where they are located, it makes it hard for them to stay together so some separation is expected and just needs to be monitored. Dobby is not loving stall rest but is excited to be able to go play with his friends once he’s healed.”