Quicksand in Shadow Hills raises concerns for some

The soggy weather has people in Shadow Hills, near the Hansen Dam in Los Angeles, concerned after a horse and rider got stuck in quicksand on Tuesday, May 14.

Shadow Hills, located in the northwestern Verdugo Mountains, near the western end of Crescenta Valley, is primarily an equestrian community. Trails snake around the Hansen Dam Reservoir, great for walking, running and horseback riding. But it's also surrounded by quicksand, triggered by underground moisture, so when it rains, it's safest to stay off the trails for a couple of days.

"It's pretty scary if you don't know what you're doing, if you don't know what you're looking for, how to escape from it, it can be very dangerous," said local trail rider Sareen Boshgezenyan.

Sherry Leigh and her horse Ziggy experienced that on Tuesday. They went for a ride around 5 p.m. and the 18-year-old horse sank in quicksand down to his belly.

"I don't usually ride where I don't see another horse's hooves, especially now that the water has receded," recalled Leigh. "We walked through an area and it was just that fast. He just sank down and there was no trying to get him out. I just stepped off. I sank to my knees."

Firefighters used large sheets of plywood to keep from sinking in the super mud themselves and carefully lifted Ziggy to safety, while Leigh kept him tame.

"He's a very calm horse. Otherwise, a lot of them panic and have heart trouble and die," said Dave Hall who owns the stable where Ziggy lives. "He's doing great and bouncing back really well, just a few scratches on the rear legs."

Horseback riders, especially near the Hansen Dam heed the warning for trouble on the trails in wet weather.

"They have to make sure they see hoof marks going in and out of every direction because that will tell you that it's safe," said Hall.

Horseback riders should also bring with them a lead rope, halter, knife and fully charged cell phone in case they get stuck on a trail.