It’s that time of year again, when our four-legged partners decide they can walk on water, or at least ice. Sadly, equines often find themselves submerged and in grave danger. Fortunately, their human rescuers know their way around ponds and mud-pits and with bulldozers, cranes and assorted heavy gear, horse, ponies – and in one case a donkey – were saved.

This past week in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Jaxson, a 20-year-old Clydesdale, became trapped in freezing cold, deep mud. Given the heavy rainfalls in the province since the holidays, it’s no surprise that paddocks have turned to icy swamps. His owner, Sue Metcalf, found Jaxson in the morning, telling the Niagara Falls Review, “It looks like his back leg may have been suction-cupped into the mud and after trying to get loose he just lay down. He’s a big horse, around 2,000 pounds, so his body just sank.”

Metcalf’s son had a friend at Regional Towing and tow truck operator Joe Vieira arrived on the scene to help. But since the truck couldn’t get through the mud, Vieira and his manager Reinhold Weick used an ATV and rope to gently pull Jaxson out. Then a skid steer was employed to help the giant horse to stand on solid ground once again.

When a grateful Metcalf asked for the bill, Vieira said it was no charge. “It wasn’t about the money, it was about saving that horse’s life,” he told the news outlet. “There was no way I was letting this animal die on my watch.”

South of the border in December four horses in Montana were rescued after falling into a frozen pond. The dramatic video shows members of South Kalispell Fire Department, neighbours, and presumably the horses’ owners rallying together to achieve what looks impossible. They attempted a makeshift ramp, but eventually resorted to a harness and tractor to pull the animals to safety.

Watch the video here:

Further south in Nevada, a hiker called into the Sheriff’s department, having spotted a wild donkey trapped in an abandoned mine shaft. A deputy and two animal control officers arrived at the scene where they were able to get a rope around the donkey and assess the animal. Once it was clear that other than being hungry and dehydrated, the donkey was healthy, the local fire department was called in. They were successful in hoisting the poor thing to safety, where once freed of the harness it took off back into the wild, appearing unhurt. The local authorities are sealing off the mine shaft to prevent future incidents.

Watch the video here: