A record-breaking heavyweight horse needed a giant helping hand out of a tight spot when he became trapped in a ditch.

See the rescue in pictures

Three fire service vehicles and a tractor took three hours to rescue Shire horse Jim — who stands 17.3hh and weighs around 1,000kg — after he got stranded in the deep ditch at Steps Farm, Wyke Champflower, Somerset, when a fence he had been leaning against gave way.

After discovering his plight, owner Noreen Daniel, 54, called vet Sharon Alston who in turn raised the alarm with the emergency services.

Around 20 firefighters attended the scene, with two fire engines and an animal rescue unit. After Jim was sedated, fire crews dug under the horse’s huge frame, placing lifting bands underneath to winch him out.

They were assisted by tractor driver John Patterson who works nearby for Wyke Farms.
Jim, 22, is retired after spending his working life pulling drays for a brewery in London, and giving displays at agricultural shows.

He has also made his way into the Guinness Book of Records for being one of 24 Shires of that size to pull a dray.

A relieved Ms Daniel, who has owned Jim for 11 years, said: “I saw Jim soon after he had gone down and it looked like he’d had a heart attack.

“When he tried to get up, he was just pushing himself further into the ditch. It was very distressing.

“He had landed on his head and everyone feared he had broken his neck.”

Ms Daniel, the vet and two farm workers managed to reposition the trapped animal so his immense weight was not pressing on his neck.

He was then sedated while they waited for fire crews to get his rescue underway.

“It was a nerve-wracking experience,” said vet Sharon Alston.“We used brute force to get his head out from underneath his body.”

Jim had first become trapped at 11.30am and was up and walking five hours later.

“Today he looks lovely, it’s a miracle,” said Ms Daniel, a week later. “I am so grateful to the fire brigade, the vet and to Wyke Farms for all their help.”

See the rescue in pictures

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (6 December, ’07)