Drama as 30 firefighters take five hours to haul horse from swamp

  • A dramatic night-time rescue by 30 firefighters and a vet saved the life of 2 horses drowning in a swamp near Wigan in Cheshire.

    Vet Kerry Comb from Ashbrook Equine Hospital, near Knutsford in Cheshire received a call from the fire service at 9pm on Friday 21 August.

    She told H&H: “When I got there, a smaller horse had been got out but this 24-year-old cob of about 550kg and 15hh was almost completely submerged.”

    The two horses were being led through a wood by their owners that afternoon when a wooden bridge collapsed plunging the horses into a huge swamp. The women got out but the horses continued to sink.

    Wearing only waterproofs, vet Kerry jumped in up to her neck to administer anti-inflammatories and steroids.

    She said: “We had to dig down into the swamp to find the horse’s leg. It was shivering and just about to go into shock. Luckily the firefighters had erected a ‘cock’, an inflatable light system, as it was pitch black.

    “It took a long time and the guys were getting really tired. At some point we were going to have to take a decision, as the horse was quite old and getting very distressed. Eventually they dragged myself and the horse onto a mat. Then had to continue to drag us out of the swamp for several hundred yards by hand, as the tractor didn’t work.

    “I gave the horse a sedative but it was nerve wracking having it on it on its side for so long. They dragged us over the swampy ground for over an hour and a half.”

    Crew commander, Terry McMullen, from Leigh Fire Station, said: “We were in the swamp up to our chests trying to get the horse out of there. In all we must have been at the site for around five and a half hours.”

    To the relief of owners and rescuers, both horses emerged unscathed.

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