GRANADA HILLS — The horse and rider who fell backward into a steep ravine on Sunday and waited 90 minutes for rescue survived the ordeal with only bruises and abrasions, the horse's owner said Monday.
"They both have a lucky star," said Stevie Norman of North Hollywood, who owns the 20-year-old grey Arabian mare, Twister. The horse was being ridden by Sharon Varnes, 53, of Chatsworth, when horse and rider fell into a ravine near Sesnon Boulevard and Beaufait Avenue in Porter Ranch.
Norman said her friend was riding about 5 p.m. along a trail that suddenly disappeared, washed away by heavy rains. Varnes urged the mare up a hill, but the ground caved away beneath the animal's feet.
Varnes slipped off the back of the horse into the ravine and the horse also tumbled over backward, landing upside down atop the rider, pinning her legs, Norman said. The horse, which could have panicked and severely injured Varnes, remained still until rescuers were able to airlift it off her.
"Twister is the world's best horse," Norman said. "If it had been any other horse, it could have been a disaster. But she just lay there."
Varnes was air-lifted to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, where she was treated and released.
The horse, which had been tranquilized shortly after the accident, showed little response to treatment for hours after it was air-lifted to a nearby roadway.
Dr. Marta Granstedt of Simi Valley, a veterinarian summoned by rescuers, said the horse was in critical condition with heart arrhythmia due to stress and exhaustion. At one point, the mare attempted to sit up, began shaking violently, then collapsed on the roadway. "She was nonresponsive for a very long time," Granstedt said. "That was definitely of concern."
Finally, shortly before 11 p.m., the mare stood up and was led into a trailer. She was taken to a nearby ranch where she was bedded down in an enclosed stall overnight, then returned Monday morning to the Hillcrest Ranch in Granada Hills, where she is boarded, Norman said.
"It was practically a disaster," Norman said, "except for that lucky star."