Firefighters have been praised for their kindness and professionalism after they spent Boxing Day lifting a large, trapped horse out of a mud-filled ditch near Nether Worton.
The 17hh horse, Arnie, was out for a leisure ride with owner Lucie Scopes and a group of friends when the freak accident happened and he slid down into a deep ditch.
His efforts to release himself resulted in him sinking deeper and a passer-by called Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue.
“It was a V-shaped ditch with concrete and rubble in and it was really deep and boggy and he got stuck. He managed to stand up three times and the second time we were able to get his saddle off,” said Ms Scopes.
“He just couldn’t get his footing with his back legs enough to get out. Tom Righton from Hook Norton Veterinery Surgery was on duty and came out. He was amazing.”
The 20-year-old horse had been in the ditch, off the gated road between Nether Worton and Duns Tew, for an hour and first to arrive on the scene was the Deddington fire service team, closely followed by a rescue tender from Kidlington.
“The vet had to sedate him and the specialists from Kidlington managed to use special straps to use as slings which, because he was sedated, they were able to get underneath him.
“At this point I was convinced Arnie had broken his leg so we sent for a trailer and rugs as he was getting cold.”
Fencing was dismantled and eventually the horse was lifted using a teleporter just as it was getting dark. Arnie was checked over by the vet but miraculously was all right except for some superficial grazes and bruising.
“I was up with him most of the night in his stable at Barford St John with my friend Olivia Lella who had been helping all afternoon,” said Ms Scopes.
“The vet warned me Arnie would look very sore the next day and probably be hopping lame but he sauntered out of the stable and was only marginally lame. He has recovered extraordinarily well and the vet was surprised as his condition, given what had happened.
“The fire and rescue teams and the vet were brilliant, they were so sweet to him and handled him beautifully. They put me at ease and were so professional, explaining what they were going to do and what would happen.”