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Fire crews from Launceston and Bodmin in Cornwall and west-country vet Kieran O’Brien have been awarded RSPCA Certificates of Merit last week after rescuing two horses involved in a traffic accident.

The accident took place on 12 December 2007 on the A30 near Bolventor, Launceston, when the trailer the two horses were travelling in overturned after a tyre blew out.

Mares Double Duchess and Wiktoria were both stuck on their sides with one horse trapping the other underneath.

Mr O’Brien arrived at the scene and sedated the horses. He said: “I rushed to get some sedative from my car but on my return was amazed to find the uppermost mare had managed to get to her feet, and was standing on top of the horse underneath — crouching because her back and head had very little room.”

The fire crews cut through the panels of the trailer and the horses were led to safety.

“When we arrived at the scene one horse was standing on top of the other, and obviously neither animal could get out,” said sub officer Simon Uden of Bodmin Fire Station. “Because the structure of the trailer was so different to that of a car we had to use the rescue equipment quite extensively and fold the trailer like a big can.”

Both horses have now made a full recovery.

The horses’s owner, Mrs Meeson, praised the rescue operation: “Kieran O’Brien arrived in double-quick time, took over and was just brilliant. He had dealt with this type of accident before and knew exactly what to do. I’m very glad to hear that they’re all being rewarded for their efforts.”

RSPCA Chief inspector Neil Thomas added: “The RSPCA presents awards to anybody who goes above and beyond the call of duty to rescue an animal, and I felt that the fire service and veterinary surgeon should be recognised for their actions.”

The awards were presented on Tuesday, 22 January.