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CALDWELL COUNTY, NC (WBTV) -
Cecil Byrd walked his horse around on Tuesday and still could not believe that Comet, the horse, was in such good shape.
"I thought he was a goner last night," he said.
Comet had fallen into a creek where water temperatures were in the 30's and the sides too steep for the 28 year old horse to climb out.
The horse, Byrd thinks, had been in the near freezing water for at least five hours. He was shaking and in a state of shock when he was found late Monday afternoon.
Rescue crews and friends of Byrd helped to pull Comet out of the water and onto the creek bank.
The problem was he was on the bank opposite of the pasture where he needed to be. The horse could not stand up and the people there could not carry him across.
A roll back tow truck was called in and the vehicle was pulled by a winch through the mud right up to the edge of the creek bank where it lowered the rear platform to act as a bridge across the creek. At that point the horse was winched aboard and across the water.
A second winch was used to pull the tow truck to higher and drier ground.
Just because the horse was across the water, though, did not mean the danger had passed. Comet still could not stand up, having been in the water for hours and on the cold ground for another two.
"If he can just get up, he will be alright, I think," said Byrd.
After more encouragement, and a lot of pushing, Comet finally stood. His legs were shaking and it wasn't clear if he could stand up for long but he did.
"I think he'll make it, I do," said Byrd.
Tuesday morning Comet had dried out and seemed to enjoy standing in the warm sunshine.
Byrd said it was an extremely close call, given the state of the horse when he was found.
"I have to thank everyone who came out to help," he said. "It looks like Comet will see his 29th birthday."