The 17hh Shire mare became trapped after entering the woods in Forda, Sourton, last Sunday to have a drink.

The land surrounding the bog was firm, but the mare stepped into it and became stuck. By the time fire crews reached the stricken horse she had sunk so far down that only her head and neck were visible.

Ian Donovan,station commander for Okehampton, said: “We received a call just after 1pm to help a local farmer free a horse that had become trapped in a bog. Two crews and a special tender from Plymouth were sent to the scene and a total of 16 officers worked to free the horse.

“A vet was called, but didn’t administer any drugs because the mare remained very calm throughout.”

The only access to the wood was across several fields so firecrews used four-wheel-drive vehicles. Once in place, officers took turns to manually excavate the area around the horse in order to get a sling under her belly. Then, using a hand-winch and inflatable mud mats, they began the task of trying to free her.

“We used mud mats to help free the horse,” explains Ian. “They are like giant lilos and help provide a firm base in areas of unstable ground, such as mud or sand. We then continued to excavate the area by hand until we could lay a reel of hose under the horses feet to give her a platform to push off against.”

It took the rescuers 2½ hours to finally get the mare, who Ian estimated weighed around 1½ tons, back onto solid ground.

“After the rescue, the mare appeared none the worse for her ordeal. By the time we had packed up and were ready to go, she was back grazing in her field,” explains Ian.

“It is not unusual to get calls to rescue animals, in particular cows, but this is the first time I can recall rescuing a horse from a bog.”