An Arabian horse on a beachfront photo shoot in California became the subject of the action himself after a noise sent him fleeing into the chilly ocean waters.
The horse, identified by Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol as a white Arabian named William, bolted from the photo shoot around 6:15 p.m. Tuesday in reaction to the sound of the breaking surf at high tide, officials said.
After running back and forth along the beach, the 7-year-old horse jumped into the waters of the Santa Barbara Channel and quickly disappeared from sight.
A search was launched by State Parks lifeguards, officials from the nearby Carpenteria Fire Department and a helicopter unit from the Santa Barbara County search and rescue team, but it was crew members aboard a boat far out in the water that eventually spotted the horse treading water near oil rigs and alerted authorities.
Photos and video captured of the rescue show rescuers using a tow line attached to William’s saddle to tie him to the boat and then slowly towing him back to shore. Rescuers took turns holding the horses’ head so that the fatigued animal wouldn’t sink.
“We had to brainstorm,” Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol Officer Ryan Kelly told the Santa Barbara Independent of the unusual rescue. “He showed definite signs of fatigue. His head kept dipping into the water.”
Nearly three hours later, William, whose official name is “Air of Temptation,” was back on dry land with the other horses on hand to model for a photography clinic how to shoot animals.
William was taken to an animal clinic in the area and released back to his owner, who told the Huffington Post it was her horse’s first dip into the open water.
“He’s never been swimming before in his life,” Mindy Peters, a horse-breeder whose family has owned Williams since February, told the website. “We were scared to death that we were going to lose him, that he was going to drown … he’s absolutely part of our family.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.