A veteran New Forest pony has been rescued from a ditch in Hampshire following a call to the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.

The 31-year-old mare called Velvet was found on Saturday, 12 January, lying exhausted in a cold stream in the ditch in Sherfield-on-Loddon.

Fire crews from Basingstoke and Eastleigh fire stations successfully rescued the 13.2hh, 350kg New Forest pony using a strop guide specially adapted for horses and a type of forklift called a tele-handler.

It is thought that Velvet had been trapped for a couple of hours after she passed through a hedge dividing two fields and fell five to six feet into the ditch below.

Animal Rescue Specialist and Rural Safety Officer Anton Phillips attended the rescue. He told H&H: “It took nearly an hour and half to free the mare as we had to take extra care, the sides of the ditch were very steep and she looked like she might have had a broken pelvis.”

Luckily this was not the case and Velvet’s only injury was some damage to the eye area caused by her thrashing around in a panic, catching the area on the debris on the side of the ditch.

Velvet was beginning to suffer from hypothermia so once removed from the ditch she was dried, covered with blankets and thoroughly examined by a vet. After three or four attempts she was back on her feet and is now recovering well at home.

“It was a very traumatic experience for her, Velvet is one extremely lucky pony. When you consider that in human terms Velvet is about 80 years old this was an excellent result ” said Anton.

Last year Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service were called out to 260 animal rescue incidents – 70 of which involved horses. Anton is one of a team of Animal Rescue Specialists at Hampshire Fire and Rescue who ensure that the environment is made safe and the animals rescued in a viable, procedural way, considering the safety of both animal and owner.