Horse rescued from river

editorial image

Rescuers who were forced to think on the hoof after a horse became stranded over night in a freezing river have been presented with awards.

RSPCA staff and fire fighters picked up commendations during a ceremony at Calow School last week.

The team joined forces to rescue the stricken horse from the river Rother.

A dog walker spotted the horse stuck in the river at Killamarsh on Tuesday, January 31.

The RSPCA attended and discovered the animal was stuck in deep mud down a steep river bank.

Andy Sowden, RSPCA animal welfare officer, said: “The horse was very tired and cold and had probably been stuck in the river all night in freezing conditions.”

Three RSPCA officers and several fire fighters were involved.

Mr Sowden added: “It was not an easy job trying to help a heavy animal escape from such an inaccessible spot.

“The horse moved in to open water of its own accord, where we were able to attach a harness and rope.

“Eventually, with the fire brigade pulling on the rope, and with assistance in the water, the horse was slowly helped up the steep bank to safety.

“Had the member of the public not phoned the RSPCA, and had Red Watch from the fire service not attended, the horse would almost certainly have died, as it could not work itself free and conditions were very cold.”

The team needed a boat to reach the animal, as well as having rescuers in the cold water.

The rescue took around three hours to complete.

It is thought that the horse walked or swam down river in an attempt to reach long grass on the steep bank, but became unable to get back to open water and became stuck.

The horse which, quickly recovered from the incident, is owned by travellers from South Yorkshire who have been given advice following the incident.

RSPCA chief inspector Simon Parker, animal welfare officer Andy Sowden, RSPCA inspector Mick Darling, fire fighter John Mannion and watch manager Kevin Yip were presented with RSPCA commendations.

A spokesman for the RSPCA said: “A great rescue, which undoubtedly saved the life of the horse. Without timely intervention by the RSPCA and fire and rescue it would have succumbed to hypothermia and drowned.

“The commendations are justly deserved.”