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Horse and rider in ditch plunge

A horse and rider out hacking in Buckinghamshire have had a miraculous escape after the pair fell down a drainage ditch and had to be rescued.

Primary school teacher, Julie Leach, was riding her 15.1hh mare Duffy along the Stoke Lane bridle path near Great Brickhill with her friend Rebecca Payne when the accident happened last month.

“It was such a lovely evening we decided to go out for a long ride,” says Julie. “We were riding along a stretch of the bridleway and the ditch must have been covered with nettles and brambles as I didn’t see it from the path.

“I don’t exactly know what happened but Duffy stepped backwards and the next thing I know, I was pinned underneath her backend at the bottom of a ditch.

Julie somehow managed to wriggle out from underneath Duffy, who was trapped sideways, and scramble out.

“My first thought was ‘oh my god!’ but Rebecca was brilliant because she told me not to panic and then my common sense kicked in and I called the fire brigade and then my vet on my mobile.”

Fire crews were on the scene within 15 minutes, closely followed by Julie’s vet Peter Harding. They managed to clear the area of weeds and brambles, which allowed them to see the full extent of Duffy’s predicament.

“It was really hard because the paramedics were trying to take a look at me but the only thing I cared about was Duffy,” says Julie.

Peter jumped straight into the bottom of the ditch, managed to remove the mare’s saddle and bridle and put a head collar on her.

“As soon as thesaddle and bridle were off, Duffy managed to stand up but we were still faced with the problem of how to get her out. The fire crews had brought lifting equipment but Peter thought that if we banked up the sides using straw bales as steps she would be able to walk out,” continues Julie.

However, Duffy clearly had other ideas because, just as straw bales were being loaded onto a trailer, the chestnut mare managed to scramble out of the hole and stood shaking at the top.

She was immediately given an anti-inflammatory injection. A horsebox was then sent to pick up the dishevelled mare and take her back to the yard, where she was given a bath and tucked up for the night.

“The next day she was quite stiff and had lots of superficial cuts but she is now back to her usual self,” explains Julie. “Everyone involved was fantastic and I am so glad I had my mobile with me. Without it I would have been stranded and unable to call the fire brigade or my vet.”

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