Equine Rescue

Feel Good Sunday II: A mini horse was found on a Japanese rooftop three days after disappearing

By Marnie O’Neill | news.com.au

LEAF the miniature therapy horse was last seen disappearing into a swollen river during Japan’s devastating floods at the weekend. Then, a miracle happened.

Not something you see every day. Picture: Courtesy of Peace Winds JapanSource:Supplied

A MINIATURE horse that went missing during Japan’s devastating floods last week has been found alive and stranded on a roof.

Leaf, a nine-year-old mare used for animal therapy at the Life Town Mabi aged care facility in the Mabicho district of Kakehashi, vanished on July 6 along with her colt, Earth, when floodwaters swept through the region on Friday.

Staff had been forced to release the pair after torrential rains forced an evacuation of the facility.

The assumption was that Leaf, who was acquired from a farm in Osaka, had drowned, but one Life Town employee refused to give up hope.

Mari Tanimoto, 49, who had taken care of Leaf at the facility, believed the horse might have survived by swimming to higher ground, according to The Asahi Shimbun.

Once the waters receded, Ms Tanimoto started searching the surrounding mountains for the lost animal and her one-year-old colt.

It turns out her faith in Leaf was well placed.

On Monday, a rescue team from disaster relief charity Peace Winds Japan came across a bizarre sight as they made there way to a school that had been functioning as a temporary evacuation shelter.

It was a tiny horse, caked in mud, standing on the roof of a private home just a few kilometres from Life Town.

The team was making arrangements for a specialist team to extract Leaf from her perilous position when the mare lost her footing, falling two metres to the ground, The Japan Times reported.Somehow, the horse managed to survive with only minor injuries to one leg.
“I was really worried about Leaf because I could not search for her,” Ms Tanimoto told reporters as she stroked the horse’s face during an emotional reunion with the animal yesterday.

Her colleague Masayuki Yoshida, 48, said everybody exempt Ms Tanimoto believed the animal had perished.

“I thought that she was already dead, but luckily she seemed to have survived on the roof,” Ms Yoshida said.

“Leaf is so loved that 40 or 50 people visit on weekends to feed her. She did well over those three days.”

Meanwhile, locals have told Asahi Shimbun they cannot understand how the animal ended up on the roof, insisting the water levels never got high enough to carry there.

Sadly, little Earth remains missing.

More than 170 people have been confirmed dead after the country was hit by record breaking torrential rains, causing widespread flooding and landslides.


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