MOUNT DESERT, Maine — A carriage horse in Acadia National Park apparently got out of his stall and into trouble Wednesday morning, triggering a massive effort to extricate the 1,800-pound animal from a deep hole in the stable floor.

Duke, a 12-year-old Belgian Suffolk Cross horse that helps pull carriages in Acadia, was put into his stall at Wildwood Stables at about 10 p.m. Tuesday. But when workers arrived just after 6 a.m. on Wednesday they found Duke out of his stall and stuck in a 4- to 5-foot-deep hole that opened when he broke through planking in another part of the building.

“The only things coming out of the hole were his head, his front feet and part of his body,” said Richard Rechholtz, supervisory park ranger at Acadia.

Over the next two-plus hours, about 30 people from Carriages of Acadia Inc. — the private concessionaire that operates the carriage rides from Wildwood — as well as the park service, the Mount Desert Fire Department and Mount Desert Highway Department tried to devise a way to lift the massive animal from the hole.

The group wrapped large fire hoses around Duke’s body as well as ropes and a winch-like device known as a come-along to eventually pull the horse from the hole. They had to cut a hole in the loft above the horse in order to use the stable’s rafters to lift Duke’s hindquarters while about 15 people pulled.

“It was a group effort,” Rechholtz said.

After Duke was removed from the hole, a local veterinarian, Dr. Brian Leeth, sedated the horse in order to check him for injuries.

“He did have some lacerations and so forth,” Rechholtz said. Otherwise, Duke is expected to make a full recovery.

Rechholtz said it was unclear how Duke escaped after being secured in his stall last night.


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