GRANTSBURG, Wisconsin (WCCO) — Girl dads like Eric McKinley get it: his daughter, Hope, is happiest around her horse, Wilson.

“It’s kind of hard to explain. it’s just something between us that’s unbreakable, and it’s hard to put into words, like, you can only just feel it,” said Hope McKinley.

Hope was due home anyway for Christmas, but the trip back from veterinary school in Montana couldn’t come soon enough after she got word that Wilson escaped from home, wandered six miles and fell through the ice of Big Wood Lake in Grantsburg, Wisconsin.

It took four hours for a team of friends, neighbors and a tow truck driver to rescue the 1,200-pound Mustang without any heavy machinery. The ice was only four inches thick.

“I was kind of speechless, honestly,” said Hope McKinley. “He was just scared, away from home.”

Wilson’s vet on Friday gave Hope a lot of good news: his swelling is down, Wilson’s muscles are moving again. The only lingering issue is a cut above the eye from the ice.

What are the doctor’s orders moving forward? More rest, more love, more treats, and that’s just fine with Hope. The best Christmas gift is just being in Wilson’s presence.

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