An RNLI lifeboat assisted by the Welsh coastguards rescued a horse that wasswept out to sea at Newgate in Pembrokeshire.

Welsh Rocket, affectionately known as “Thug”, is a six-year-old, 16.2hh Thoroughbred/Irish Draught gelding.

The incident took place earlier this week when owner Julian Vaughan, and his motherNoreen, who bred the horse, rode the horses on exercise along the beach.

“We had taken Thug to the coast to introduce him to water,” explains Noreen, “but the tide was quite high. He went in OK, but when a freak wave broke over him, he leaptsideways. Julian fell off and Thug took fright and bolted.

“The water was already up to his belly when he suddenly veered left out to sea. The tide is exceptionally strong and within seconds Thug was swept right out.”

Luckily, the Little Haven Inshore Lifeboat crew was in the area on routine exercise when they got a call to report a horse in difficulty in the sea. Duty helmsman Chris Baggs, senior helmsman Richard Bowles and Phillipa Lewis were on the scene within a matter of minutes.

“When the coastguard informed us the rider was safely on the beach we turned our attention to the horse,” said Richard.

“We wanted to try and get a rope on the horse and get him back to the shore, but he was spooked by the boat and noise of the engines, so we returned to the shore to pick up his rider.”

Assisted by Julian, the crew herded Thug towards a small cove where he managed to get himself a shore.

Once reunited with his rider, the rescue party waited for low tide so they could make their way back to the main beach.

“Once the tide was far enough out for us to make our way back, Thug was led back by his owner before being loaded up and driven home apparently none the worse for his ordeal ” saidRichard.

Noreen said: “Everyone involved was fantastic, ” said Noreen. “It’s lucky that Thug is so fit as many would have really struggled in those conditions.”

Despite the pair’s recent ordeal, Julian plans another trip to the beach -but this time only at low tide.