A horse who swam more than a mile out to sea after bucking her rider off on the beach had to be coaxed back to shore by an RNLI Lifeboat crew.
The horse’s owner Louise Presho was left “fearing the worst” when six-year-old Valentine galloped down the beach, turned into the water and eventually disappeared out of sight into the waves.
The part-bred cob mare, who Louise has owned since February, was in the water for nearly two hours before crew managed to bring her back to the beach where she could be caught.
Louise’s friend Samantha Boyd told H&H they are regular visitors to “beautiful” Murvagh Beach in County Donegal, which is around an hour’s drive over the border from their home in Country Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.
The pair had been on the beach for around half an hour and were hacking along the water’s edge when Valentine suddenly spooked and bucked Louise — an experienced rider and producer — off.
“I managed to pull my horse up rather than chase after her as we thought she would just stop and come back to my horse,” said Samantha, who was riding Valentine’s full sister, four-year-old Misfit. “But she turned and just decided to head off into the water instead. Louise went in after her calling her but she just kept going out.”
“I have never seen a horse head into water before,” Samantha added. “We were sure she would come back to my horse as she’s her sister and she’s not normally too keen on puddles, so the idea that she’d choose to go for a swim was a shock.”
Samantha called the coastguard but at first they weren’t sure if they could send a lifeboat crew out because of the weather conditions.
Valentine was in the water for around 40 to 50 minutes before they called back to confirm a boat had been dispatched.
“At this point we had lost sight of her, feared the worst and were sure she wouldn’t survive,” Samantha said.
“We then got word that the boat had spotted her and she was alive but it took them nearly an hour to coax her back to shore.”
Coastguards and lifeguards said the water was shallow in places, so Valentine was unlikely to have been swimming the whole time.
“We think that’s what saved her,” Samantha added.
Although Louise was bruised from the fall, Valentine survived her ordeal “100% fine”.
‘We know she hadn’t been in there long — thank God for vocal ponies!’
Emergency services had to work quickly to free the trapped horse as the tide was rising at a rate of
“Even her tack was still intact, just a bit wet!” Samantha said, adding that the pair are very grateful to the RNLI and Erin and Derek, two passers-by who helped.
The volunteer crew from Bundoran RNLI Lifeboat was dispatched the incident on Monday afternoon (29 June). The station confirmed Malin Head Coast Guard received the call from the lifeguards on duty at Murvagh Beach just after 5.40pm.
Helm Killian O’Kelly said: “This was another callout with a good outcome. Animals are as prone as people to get in trouble in the water and we were glad to be able to help out on this occasion. Remember if you see someone in difficulty on the coast call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.”
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