A 28-year-old horse that had been missing for over 10 days has been found safe and well.

Josh, a 17.2hh gelding disappeared from his field in Sherston, near Malmesbury, Wilts on Wednesday 20 May and had not been seen until his discovery on Saturday 30 May. Following retirement from the hunting field earlier this year, he had been enjoying semi-retirement with Lottie Bostock when it was discovered he was missing.

Local Farmer’s wife Hayley Godwin, was following up a possible lead of “sounds being heard”, when she returned to what has been described as a steep, almost-impossible-to-access and thickly overgrown area on the side of a bank. To Hayley’s amazement and relief, the big bay horse was there, trapped and unable to find his way out.

Lottie’s husband Guy — who had been learning to ride on Josh — and local farmer Antony Tuck cleared the area to enable Josh to be cut out of the thicket.

Hayley Godwin said: “Just an amazingly emotional time to see such a strong willed horse walk free from the bushes and up a steep hill with such a bright eye and looking so well after 10 days — what a star Josh is!”

Despite endless searches by people in the local area — including many members of the Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt where Josh had enjoyed his hunting career with hon secretary Nigel Maidment — the chances of his recovery were beginning to look slim.

An overjoyed Lottie Bostock reported: “I don’t think we will ever fully understand quite how Josh had got himself completely submerged by a thicket just below the top of the cliff. The undercover was so thick that it was completely dark and he literally became wedged inside. He had to be cut out painfully slowly and a 20m long opening made in order for him to be removed. He was standing upright, had eaten all the bark off the surrounding trees and luckily thanks to the recent rainfall had a pool of water at his feet.

“Although Josh appeared to be none-the-worse, a vet was called immediately to check him over, and the vet couldn’t believe just how alert, bright and seemingly unfazed by his ordeal he was.”

On Sunday, a day after his dramatic rescue, Josh was reported to be in good spirits.

News of Josh’s disappearance had gone viral on social media websites across the country, amid fears he had been stolen and may be offered for sale.