After 22 years of volunteer community service, Pete Caudill, chief of the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company, says that rescue calls seldom surprise him.
But a Feb. 10 call to rescue a fallen horse jolted him from the dinner table about 6 p.m.
"That one ranks right up there as one of the most bizarre," Chief Caudill said.
In frigid temperatures worsened by freezing rain, about 15 volunteers, an engine and brush truck responded to the 1200 block of Midwood Court off Henderson Road in Bel Air.
There a 15-year-old thoroughbred mare and her 2-year-old colt had fallen on ice and slid about 100 yards down a hill in the 7-acre pasture of Tadeusz Leser, who has lived at the place 55 years.
After surveying the scene, Chief Caudill summoned some knowledgeable horsemen to advise him on how to get the animals out of their predicament.
"I don't know horses," he said. "I don't know where you can tug or pull a horse without injuring it."
When the chief arrived, the unnamed colt was standing near the pond at the bottom of the sloping pasture.
But Ce Ce, the mare, was lying on her side and could not get to her feet, he said.
Mr. Leser boards the horses for their owner, Marie K. Herold of Abingdon.
He said this was the first time he had seen the pasture completely covered by ice.
Volunteers spread a tarp under the mare and rigged a pully system to a nearby tree.
Then they dragged the fallen mare up the hill and closer to the barn.
The rescue took about 90 minutes.
Dr. Russell L. Jacobson, a veterinary specialist who treats only horses, arrived 30 minutes later, about 8 p.m.
He said Thursday that he administered pain relievers and assisted Ce Ce in getting back on her feet.
Mrs. Herold said Wednesday night that Ce Ce died of pneumonia two days after the rescue, despite the exceptional efforts of the volunteers who helped get her back to the barn.
A week earlier, Mrs. Herold lost a 33-year-old brood mare after the horse suffered a stroke, she said.
The icy conditions, she said, had made it impossible for her to tend to Ce Ce.
"She had to have suffered hypothermia and needed a massive dose of antibiotics to prevent infection," Mrs. Herold said.
The horse owner said she used an ax Feb. 12 to chip her way yards to the plowed road where a taxi took her to check on Ce Ce.
"She died just before I arrived," Mrs. Herold said. "What can I do? I'm still very upset."
Mrs. Herold said she got her first horse when she was 1 and never before had one go down on ice.
Dr. Jacobson said he was kept busy during the recent ice storm, handling about six calls for fallen horses.
"They either get too scared to get back on their feet or just don't want to get up," the doctor said.
The doctor said cattle often fall on ice, too, but tend not to get themselves into as much trouble as do horses, which are more inclined to roam.