Passers-by in Soccoro, New Mexico faced an unusual sight yesterday—an enormous fake horse, sunk up to its shoulders in a pit of mud.

But this was not the work of a mannequin mobster, or a hater of merry-go-rounds. It was a challenge for dozens of local firefighters, tasked with saving this fake horse to prepare for the sticky escapades of real ones.

“Llamas, goats, they can get out of anything, but not so with horses,” Rebecca Gimenez, leader of the training session and co-founder of Georgia’s Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue, told El Defensor Chieftain. During the rainy spring and summer seasons, horses often get stuck in mudholes or slippery-sided crevices, and end up at a loss. While some cowboys can pull off their own rescues, others end up calling for assistance from emergency personnel.

The three-day training session drew 30 firefighters from volunteer companies across the state. Participants first practiced yanking the horse out with a large tripod, called a trifecta. Because many stuck-horse situations are too tight for large equipment, they also tried it out with simpler tools: rope, webbing, and elbow grease.

Gimenez flew a horse mannequin in from the UK for the occasion. Worried about customs, she also had a backup plan—a 350-pound barrel. “For our purpose, basically a horse is a big barrel with legs on it,” she told the Chieftain. (Luckily, customs saw nothing amiss, and they were able to use the real[ish] thing.)

New Mexico’s mud-loving horses will be glad to know the hoisters were successful. And for those stuck elsewhere, Gimenez is coming for you: next, she’s headed to Canada, Portugal, and Korea. In the meantime, you’ll just have to hold yourselves.

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