Tietsort praised for horse rescue

Ron Burtz

A Custer man is being praised for traveling to the northern Hills during a recent snowstorm to rescue a blind and pregnant mare who had gotten out of her fence and was stuck in chest-high snow.
After a snow storm in mid-December dumped five feet of snow on her place in a box canyon at 5,200 feet near Central City, Barbara Jean Atchison lost track of the registered quarter horse mare, “Cherokee,” expected to foal in the spring. When finally located some distance from the barn, the mare was on the wrong side of the fence and blocked in by piles of heavy snow.
Atichison said the mare, which went blind for some unknown reason during her first pregnancy, is normally “like a Roomba” robotic vacuum, wandering around the enclosure until she bumps into the fence and then goes off in a different direction. Now, however, the snow was 60 inches deep with even higher drifts and the fences were completely covered with snow.
“I accidentally found her when I was floundering in waist deep snow trying to get hay for (another) horse,” said Atchison.
So she began putting out calls for someone to come with a set of bolt cutters to cut the steel fence panel to free the animal. Among those receiving the distress signal was electrical lineman Noah Tietsort of Custer.
Atchison had gotten to know Tietsort several years earlier when he had expressed interest in an old snowmobile she had for sale, and he had reached out to her several days earlier offering the help of his new mountain snowmobile if she got snowed in.
Tietsort was the only one to respond affirmatively to the distress signal and within three hours he had loaded the snowmobile in the back of his pickup and made the 60-mile trip to Atchison’s half-mile, seven percent grade driveway which was choked with snow.
Even with the powerful snowmobile, Atchison said Tietsort had trouble plowing through the drifts to get to her house, but he made it and went to work cutting the fence to free the horse.
“We cut the fence open, got a rope on the horse and walked her through to the bales,” wrote Atchison in a social media post. “No injuries and didn’t stress herself and stood quietly waiting for hours for help to arrive. The stallion helped and would nicker to her.”
“He’s just the nicest kid,” said Tietsort’s newest fan. “It thrills me that there are still amazing young people and I have immense gratitude for his help.”
With the mare safely in the barn where she remains, Tietsort also helped dig a “huge path” to nearby hay bales so Atchison could get hay to the animals in the days ahead and also located the flock of wild turkeys that hang out there and made sure they were fed. Inside the house he made friends with Bellina, Atchison’s famous turken “house chicken” who is often featured on YouTube. (Look her up!)
Atchison, who owns Blacktail Riding Academy in Spearfish, said she was impressed with how calm Tietsort was around the frightened mare, noting it’s obvious that he knows horses. She said when the foal is born this spring she plans to name it after him.
Atchison was also impressed that Tietsort refused any payment for the rescue, telling her instead that he would rather she send any monetary gift to the mother of his friend who is being treated for cancer.
“Her son/my very good friend, was diagnosed with cancer and they have been all over seeing doctors,” wrote Tietsort, “it would mean a lot to me.”
Tietsort asked her to send donations via the Venmo app to @TammySegelke.
“Decent human being enough?” remarked Atchison.
A bit of comic relief in the aftermath of the drama surrounding the rescue has been provided to Atchison by reading the accounts of some of the TV news stations that picked up the story.
“It’s hilarious,” said Atchison of some of the inaccuracies in reporting on the incident. One station ran a photo of Tietsort with Bellina identifying her as a wild turkey he had rescued. Another showed a photo of Atchison’s stallion, “Pistol,” identifying him as the rescued mare.
She also said numerous people have questioned why she would allow a blind mare to become pregnant again. From prior experience, Atchison said she knows Cherokee is a good and attentive mother who takes good care of her babies.

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