A pioneering firefighter who has saved countless horses’ lives through improving equine rescue skills in the emergency services has been given a prestigious award.

Jim Green, of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, was announced the winner of the Sir Colin Spedding Award at the National Equine Forum on 2 March.

Mr Green grew up in the New Forest and trained as a forest manager before joining the fire service in 1996.

He has been at the forefront of responding to animal rescues in Hampshire since 2004. He also led the implementation of animal rescue methods, training and equipment that are now standardised across UK fire services.

He helped to set up the safer horse rescues initiative with Professor Josh Slater, which was launched by the British Equine Veterinary Association in 2007.

“Little did I know when joining the fire service that my path would lead me in this direction,” said Mr Green. “I am excited for the future as together we can develop these pioneering activities to promote safer rescues, improve welfare and protect livelihoods.”

Among his rescues was “Spencer”, who fell through the floor of a lorry and trapped his hind leg between the inner and outer wheels of a lorry in 2016.

He is also the co-founder of the British Animal Rescue and Trauma Care Association (BARTA), which last year published a survey into equine transport safety.

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He was rescue advisor to the veterinary services team at the London 2012 Olympics.

Mr Green was unable to collect his award from the Princess Royal as he is on sabbatical in the US, where he is developing animal and disaster response strategies with the centre of equine health at the University of California.

The runner-up spots were taken by equine veterinary nurse Bonny Millar and Maureen James of the side-saddle authority.

Mr Green will deliver the memorial lecture at the 2018 forum.