AZ Big Media SRP water workers save a wild horse from a canal

As master of the waters for Salt River Project, Kristen Keim is experienced in working with customers to resolve irrigation water ordering issues and maintain reliable deliveries. Earlier this month, however, Keim’s work took an unusual turn. Last week, on a hot Saturday, July 9, Keim was removing moss from an Arizona canal zone on the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian community when she noticed a feral horse standing waist-deep in the ‘water.

“The horse was near one of our equipment ramps and didn’t seem distressed and was even blowing bubbles with his nose,” Keim said. “It was a very hot morning and I didn’t mind being in the water as we often see the wild horses in the area entering the canal to cool off.”

Keim left the area to inspect another section of the canal, and when she returned around noon to remove more moss, she noticed the horse was in the exact same spot, facing the same direction – although this time it was more out of the water than before.


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“I hadn’t realized earlier that morning that he was kneeling on all four knees. I started to worry that he was injured, stuck in mud or couldn’t get his footing because the foam can be slippery,” Keim said. “Once I realized he could be injured and knowing the history of Salt River’s beloved wild horse population, I was determined to get him out of the water.”

With temperatures approaching 110 degrees, Keim then contacted the SRP Association dispatch center to inform them of the situation and cautiously approached the horse to see what help she could provide. After determining that the horse was not alarmed by his presence, Keim managed to spin the animal, but not onto the ramp and out of the water.

After calling on fellow waterbender and fellow waterbender Chris Crosland to help, that’s when Keim turned to a tried and true Wild West approach.

“I grabbed a rope from my truck and tied a big loop at the end. I was able to lasso it and pull it a few feet up the ramp,” Keim said. “I teamed up with Chris , using the rope and pole to carefully pull the horse and help it move its legs up the ramp. It took a while, but he finally regained his footing and climbed the ramp safely. Eventually he crossed the canal road, into the shade and started eating brush. I saw him disappear into the trees.

“I had to do everything in my power to make sure he was okay. It was a great reminder to always be aware of your surroundings, you never know what might happen!

If you use the canal banks, please follow these safety tips:

• Do not enter the water of the canal under any circumstances.

• Swimming, canoeing, kayaking, water skiing and sliding in the canals are prohibited.

• Supervise children closely and be sure to teach them canal safety.

• Motorized vehicles are not permitted on the banks of the canal (permission from SRP required).

• Stay away from automated equipment at water dispensing doors.

• Dial 911 for assistance if a person, pet or object falls into canal water.

Throughout the year, SRP crews are on the canal network carrying out a number of works to ensure the reliable and safe delivery of water to the valley. As they continue to perform essential canal work, please provide them with safe social distancing. If you have any questions about SRP water delivery, please call SRP Water Customer Service at (602) 236-3333.

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