Despite rescue efforts by Cherokee County firefighters, the horse trapped in a sinkhole for six hours died early Tuesday morning.
"Not the outcome we were hoping for," said owner Patty Sloan of Timber Ridge Farm.
Sixteen-year-old Brittany Holt was riding the 4-year-old quarter horse, Glory, as part of a trail ride Monday evening, when she said a sinkhole suddenly opened up and swallowed the horse.
"There was a tree, and when we were going over it, it was just dirt," said Holt. "There was no hole there, but when the horses started to walk over it, it started to sink. So, I went to turn around and get away from the hole, and the horse's back end sank into the ground. I jumped off of her and grabbed the reins to make sure she wouldn't get more hurt and freak out."
Cherokee County firefighters arrived on the scene at 7 p.m. and began a valiant effort to dig Glory out of the sinkhole, at times even using their hands to try and move the mud and dirt. They brought in a vet who sedated Glory so the horse would not hamper their rescue efforts by thrashing around.
"When it fell into that hole, it was covered up, half the body was covered up with a lot of dirt and mud," said Cherokee County Fire Department spokesman Tim Cavender. "We had to dig that out."
They were finally able to use a harness to hoist the horse out of the hole at about 1 a.m. Sloan said they put Glory in a trailer and rushed her to a vet, but by the time they arrived, Glory had died. She believes it was a combination of stress and other complications.
Sloan thanked everyone who worked so hard to try and rescue Glory.
"If you choose the love and companionship of being there with horses then this part, unfortunately, does come with it," said Sloan. "You just enjoy them while they're here, and thank God for having them and remember the good stuff."
She is also most grateful that Holt wasn't injured.
"I'm just so thankful Brittany wasn't hurt," said Sloan. "She's a great kid. As much as you hate to lose a horse, you can't risk a child. You're always grateful they're fine."