Surfboard to the rescue at Cumbalum
By GRAHAM BROADHEAD
SOME natural horsemanship techniques and years of surfing experience were lifesavers for two valuable racehorses trapped in a flooded paddock at Cumbalum, north of Ballina, last Thursday morning.
Stuart Abicht, of Cumbalum, used both his skills to paddle about 750 metres through the floodwaters of Emigrant Creek to unlock a gate so the horses ? a fiveyear-old mare and its eightmonth-old foal, a filly by a leading Danehills sire at foot ? could get to dry land.
The horses were standing in about 1.5 metres of water when they were spotted by a neighbouring landowner who was taking a pony to dry land.
"I think they'd been in the water all night," Mr Abicht said.
"The foal didn't have long to go, it had stiff legs from the cold.
"Every technique I've learned in natural horsemanship I used getting those horses."
Mr Abicht said he 'couldn't believe it' when the horses were spotted.
"I've just instantly thought 'we've got to get them out'," he said.
He went home and grabbed his old surfboard and paddled about 300 metres through the floodwaters to the horses.
Others had arrived at the scene and were keeping an eye on Mr Abicht.
But when he got to the horses they were scared of the surfboard and he couldn't get close to them.
So he then paddled another 350m to get to the gate of the paddock to open it so the horses could get to dry land.
All up, Mr Abicht estimates he paddled about 1.5 kilometres during the hour-long rescue.
Once Mr Abicht reached the gate the horses wouldn't follow him until they could see him on dry land, then, still very frightened, they walked into a nearby cattleyard.
Once they were on dry land, the mare started licking Mr Abicht's arm.