A horse has been rescued by firefighters after falling into an eight-foot deep ditch.

Jess Jaremczuk was riding her grey mare, Opal, along fields in Carrington, Greater Manchester, last Saturday (8 August).

Opal was spooked by a dog and fell backwards into a ditch.

Ms Jarmczuk tried to help Opal escape but the Arab cross became distressed and struggled to get out.

“It was so traumatic,” she told local press.

“I could have been killed and [Opal] could have died.

“We just fell straight down into it onto thorn bushes and mud.

“I came off and saw her tumbling down and thought she was going to land on me.”

A vet sedated Opal and firefighters from Eccles, Heywood and Sale used straps and boards to drag the mare to safety.

It took crews over three hours to rescue Opal, who is now recovering from injuries to her back and hind legs.

“[The firefighters] were all fantastic. I just know she would not be alive if it wasn’t for them,” added Ms Jarmczuk.

Watch Manager Mark Skinner, Blue Watch Altrincham Fire Station, said: “Upon arrival Opal was standing in a ditch and her rider was trying her best to lead her out. Unfortunately the sides of the ditch were too steep and slippery for Opal to get a good footing.

“Our main role as the first attendance was to ensure that the public, including the rider, were not in harm’s way.

“A vet had been called and our specialist large animal rescue team had arrived during the many attempts Opal’s rider had made to lead her out at different points along the ditch. Following many fruitless attempts Opal became exhausted, fell backwards and collapsed in the bottom of the ditch.

“Although I remained as Officer In Charge (OIC), our main operations from this point were led by Watch Manager Mark Bamford who has the specialist training to deal with these incidents and he was in close liaison with the rider throughout the rescue.

“Once the vet arrived a combined decision was made to sedate Opal and extract her using the specialist equipment carried on the water incident unit.

“Strops were fed around Opal as she lay in the ditch and lines were attached to the strops in preparation for the extraction. ‘Skids’ were then placed up one side of the ditch to help smooth out Opal’s journey and once she was fully sedated the crews then physically pulled Opal up the skids and several meters into a field for further safety.

“We remained in attendance while the vet put Opal on a saline drip and she came round gently from the sedative and was soon able to stand.”

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Road safety

Last month (15 July) horseandhound.co.uk reported that a rider and her horse had fallen into a ditch in Finchampstead.

Jenny Sambrook was out hacking her 15hh Connemara cross, Pearl, when a large lorry came past.

Pearl spooked and the pair fell into a large ditch.

Thankfully both Ms Sambrook and Pearl escaped without suffering any serious injuries.

Ms Sambrook is now calling for drivers to take greater care around horses.