Digger and his owner Dave Beekman are used to riding the steep trails of Carbon Canyon, but on Friday morning, half a mile in, something went wrong.
"He was just a little lackadaisical this morning. He wasn't paying attention," Beekman said.
Suddenly, the 17-year-old horse slipped off the narrow trail, dropping 20 feet into a ravine. Beekman said he there was a T-post on the trail that he latched onto.
"He laid there making noise, moaning a little bit," Beekman said. "I ran down ... checked him out. I thought he was dying."
A passing cyclist called for help at about 9:30 a.m. Digger was trapped. The urban search-and-rescue teams from the Orange County Fire Authority went in to assess.
"We don't want to get any civilians hurt, and also, we don't want to hurt the horse anymore, so we elected to wait for the vet to arrive," said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Joe Menton.
A vet tranquilized Digger, and at first, authorities planned to airlift him with a helicopter. But then crews decided to dig Digger out instead.
Three hours after the ordeal began, Digger was able to walk out with firefighters. He suffered some scrapes and bruises, but no broken bones.
"I'm sure he's going to be awfully sore for a while," said Dr. Bryn Moser. "After a week or two, he'll be feeling pretty normal."
His owner, from Mira Loma, was also OK.
"I think Jesus was watching over me. I could have been underneath him," Beekman said.
The horse's owner says he plans to ride Digger once he recovers but says they probably won't be taking that same trail.