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Update: 2 Horses Airlifted, Another Dies

Two horses are removed by helicopter and another walks out after falling into a ravine in Trabuco Canyon. They were part of a four-day ride from San Juan Capistrano to the Corona/Norco area.

A couple of horses got the rides of their lives Friday when they were lifted out of a Trabuco Canyon ravine by a helicopter.

They were among four horses on West Horsethief Trail that tumbled into the ravine in the Cleveland National Forest. One of the horses died from its injuries and was left behind. Another, which got separated from the others, was led out on foot after rescuers cut a trail for it. 

The two others were tranquilized, hoisted above the landscape and flown at about 50 mph to the safety of an open field where they appeared to be no worse for wear physically. The horses did receive veterinary care.

The animals were part of a scheduled four-day ride that began in San Juan Capistrano and was to end in the Corona/Norco area, said Brian Harris of the United States Forest Service. The horses fell off the trail about 10:45 a.m., but it was unclear how it actually happened, according to Harris.

Three riders were in the ravine and were hoisted to safety by helicopter.

"They were not injured, but they were exhausted," explained Harris.

The Orange County Fire Authority lent a couple of helicopters to the search, OCFA Capt. Marc Stone said.

An animal rescue team from Norco that specializes in rescuing cows that fall into ravines also responded.

—City News Service

Lauren May 05, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Beautiful pictures Mike. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like a section of the trail may have given away. Horses rarely "fall" and especially 4 of them to fall, doesn't sound correct.
V. Duvall May 05, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Probably more like RUI. Riding under the influence if it's the riders from San Juan that are attached to that once a year ride that happens after swallows day. Certainly not the horses fault.
renee ritchie May 05, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Renee Ritchie Regarding Amanda's comment "charging for horse trail use". The public use trails are open to ALL they are Hiking and Riding Trails/multi-use. Most Cities such as ours, San Juan Capistrano, where I reside and very active in the equestrian community, pay to maintain our 50 plus miles of trails for ALL to use, residents and non-residents. If we "charged folks" to use our trails that would be a deterrent to come and hike/ride and/or bike and be very self-serving. Horseback rding is a "recreation" and horses do weigh a lot more then the average two-legged folk so trails do give way because of mother nature and errosion. SJC does have a special budget dedicated for maintenance and trail safety such as signs, maps and such (also San Jaun Capistrano Equestrian Coalition has donated over $40,000) to the City, towards trail safety if you or anyone else is interested go to www.sanjuancapistrano.org and take a look at the trail map and GIS system we continue to work on trail safety and keeping all informed . However, no one is to be blamed for trail "malfunction" and if we start charging people to use the trails you will see the trails disappear and become a memory of the past. THAT would be very sad for all. My prayers go out to the riders and there should be no blame no matter the outcome. Happy Trails and God Bless America!
Mike June 08, 2012 at 09:17 PM
This didn't happen in SJC. It happened in the Cleveland NF. I don't know why these folks picked this trail as it is a very difficult trail to hike or ride a bike on. Should be signed no horses until it can be recut to accomodate equestrians. The Warrior Society spends time every year on this trail doing maintenance but they do it primairly for mountain bikers and their annual race.
Penny Arévalo June 08, 2012 at 09:18 PM
But it left from SJC, and we have a large equestrian population here, so it is still of great interest to our readers in San Juan Capistrano.

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