Five days into the nearly week-long vigil, Stewart rode Brandy to go look for help, but saw no chances of them getting the horses out of New Orleans. On his return trip, he injured his foot on some underwater debris. Stewart knew he needed medical attention, so he returned to the Interstate bridge for help. "Brandy swam for two hours trying to get to high ground," Stewart said. When he got to his destination, "I stopped and sat down and tied him up to a rail on the Interstate and waited and waited forever. (Brandy's) knees were busted up pretty bad from falling down in the water and hitting the curb." Stewart was flown to San Antonio for medical treatment and Lucian retrieved Brandy. Stewart was frustrated that he had to leave the horse and Lucian during his brief stay in San Antonio, "I wanted to come back and see my horses." About this time, things began looking bleak for Mitchell at the park. "I ran out of food except for a package of hot dogs, but I stuck it out. I wasn't leaving; I knew that," he said. "They tried to rescue me twice and I said, 'If you can find a way for the horses to go with me, I'll go, if not, I'm not going.' "One horse had already died in the park. "I was single handed at the end and was drug a few times--I just hung in there," said Mitchell. The Rescue
Help arrived Sunday, Sept. 4, around 3 p.m. CDT, when Louis Charbonnet (owner of the carriage company), Mitchell's father Lucian Mitchell Sr., and other Charbonnet employees arrived with rigs."I had just prayed and hoped, and I seen the boss coming in with the trucks and trailers," said Mitchell. "We had only had communication with the police--we lost our cell phones and other phones the first night." The 21 remaining animals were loaded on the trailers and brought to the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, La. One horse with a history of health problems died on the trailer, and another horse was down and in shock on its arrival and had to be euthanatized. "When they came to get us, I was glad to see my father again, glad to get the animals out, glad to be alive," Mitchell said. "I'm sorry I lost three though...I was trying to get them all out."The 19 surviving carriage horses and mules joined another 27 that had been evacuated to safety prior to Katrina's landfall. All 19 survivors from the Sunday rescue are medically stable. "Brandy's a little stiff, but I think he's going to make it," said Stewart. "We've been treating his knees...he's my barrel racing horse and my parade horse. He's been my partner, and he's a hero now.""We worked together the whole time," added Mitchell. "The whole crew works like a family. Mr. Sheldon made sure I had a home to stay in, and we're all in the house (Mitchell, his father, and Stewart in east Baton Rouge). We've just been sticking together like family. I hadn't heard from some of my family, then I did...everyone's OK now, and so I can rest." Both Mitchells and Stewart are lifelong New Orleans residents with nowhere to live in the long-term. "Finances would help, anything they can spare, it doesn't have to be much," said Mitchell about their current plight. "The business is gone. All three of us are in the same house and running out of money and food."When The Horse thanked Mitchell for taking time to talk to us, he replied, "I was talking to mules for seven days, so talking to a human is a blessing."Mitchell was surprised to hear that many readers had contacted The Horse, wanting to help him and to praise him for his service. "It wasn't about being a hero or nothing like that," said Mitchell. "It was just the love of an animal, and I wasn't going to leave them at all. I own two horses of my own with my dad, and we can't find them---we're still kind of shook up about that."