Sixteen-year-old Zoe Kerry narrowly escaped drowning after swimming to the rescue of her horse Ben who had escaped and bolted into the sea.

The terrifying drama happened in the Dovey estuary in west Wales, after Zoe had travelled from her home in Melton Mowbray, Leics, to exercise her 26-year-old bay gelding Ben on the beach.

Ben had got loose and ran riderless into the water before swimming out to sea.”Ben had a heavy rug on and he ended up getting stuck on a sandbank,” said Zoe. “I was crying my eyes out because I thought he would drown.”

Zoe hardly hesitated before deciding to swim to the rescue in the treacherous deep estuary, which is more than a mile wide. However, once in the sea, the tide began to sweep her sideways and she began swallowing water.

” I turned on my back and eventually managed to make the sandbank, but I was in the water a long time and felt I was about to pass out,” said Zoe.

Fortunately for both horse and rider, there was a lifeboat station only 200 yards along the beach and the pair were immediately rescued by the crew.

Zoe was taken to hospital suffering from hypothermia and released the same day, while Ben travelled home unharmed.