The rescue services in England have managed to extract an exhausted horse from mudflats on a beach.
Firefighters, the local coastguard and the RNLI were called to the beach on Burnham-On-Sea, Somerset, in the south of England at 10am yesterday morning amid concerns for two horses and three people stuck in the mud.
The crews from Burnham and Weston Coastguard, BARB Search & Rescue and Burnham RNLI managed to quickly rescue the riders and one horse.
However, the operation to safely retrieve the second horse was much more difficult as it was in the mud up to the top of its legs after being ridden there by a rider unfamiliar with the beach. An added complication was that the rescue had to be completed before the incoming tide reached the animal.
Dramatic footage shows the moment rescue teams used a hovercraft and a winching tractor to haul the exhausted horse to safety.
After installing ropes around the animal, with the help of an animal welfare officer, it was successfully extracted from the mudflats after around two-and-a-half hours.
A Coastguard spokesman said: “After a long, intricate process and with great care taken for the horse’s welfare there was finally steady progress made and the very tired horse, inch-by-inch, became free from its sticky confines.
“Once it was freed the poor, exhausted horse took a few moments to gather itself and with a burst of energy got to its feet and was reunited with a very relieved owner.”
An RNLI spokesman added: “Our station’s shore crew volunteers were called into action, as they assisted a rescue crew from Bedminster Avon Fire Rescue in carrying heavy equipment to the scene. The rescue crew arranged large canvas strops around the animal, and on direction from the fire crew, the RNLI tractor driver used the tractor’s winch to assist in pulling the animal to safety.”
A BARB spokesman said: “Our hovercraft was launched from Burnham, and stood off at the top of the beach in an overwatch position, offering safety cover for all the crews working on scene.
“BARB’s 4×4 Teams assisted in transporting various officers from the Fire & Rescue Service, and the moving of rescue equipment. Our Polaris multi-terrain vehicle was used to quickly and safely take one of the horse owners to their car and horse box to bring it to the beach to recover the animal once rescued.”
"This was a successful operation and the horse’s relieved owners were grateful for the help of all involved.”
A Burnham Coastguard spokesman issued a safety message: “We do advise if the tide is out to stay on the firm sand, horses are very heavy and can easily break through the softer surface further down towards the water. With an incoming tide, this could’ve ended in a different way.”