Exhausted horse freed from belly-deep mud in ‘rare and complex’ rescue

An exhausted horse who became stuck in belly-deep mud on a beach was freed in an “extremely rare and complex” rescue.

Teams from the HM Coastguard Flint and Wirral, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and Hoylake Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) attended Leasowe Bay, Wirral on 13 April after reports two horses had become stuck.

A spokesman for Hoylake RNLI, which deployed a hovercraft, said: “The young riders had been assisted to safety by the Coastguard and were under the care of the North West Ambulance Service and their parents.

“One horse had already been freed and led to safety, but the other was stuck up to its belly in very thick mud.”

The rescue teams began digging to free the horse’s legs but the mud proved too thick for the equipment.

“After some further digging and gentle encouragement from the emergency services the horse managed to free itself but became stuck again,” said the spokesman.

“The RNLI volunteers and the fire service deployed their mud boards and mats to provide the horse with some firmer footing. The horse was freed again and managed to climb on to the boards with some assistance.”

A vet sedated the horse to allow the emergency services to move it to shore safely.

“The horse was guided along the mud boards before eventually reaching firmer ground. Once ashore, the horse was led into a horsebox to receive further assistance and treatment,” said the spokesman.

Volunteer hovercraft crew member Ian Farrall said: “Considering the ordeal the horse had been through its behaviour was exceptional in what was clearly a distressing situation. The emergency service teams worked really well together, pooling their resources and experience to ensure a good outcome in very difficult circumstances.

“Walking and riding is a safe activity most of the time but it is important to be aware of the risks. The sand and mud around the Wirral coast can be dangerous and coastal conditions can change over time. We would advise horse riders and walkers to check local safety notices and to always carry a means of calling for help.”



A spokesman for HM Coastguard Wirral said both horses are expected to make a full recovery.

“This was an extremely rare and complex rescue and all agencies pulled together utilising a range of skills, knowledge and equipment from each agency, all of which contributed to the successful rescue and happy outcome,” said the spokesman.

If riders get into difficulty or see someone in difficulty they should dial 999 and ask for the coastguard.

For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.