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Terrified rider’s warning after horses ‘disappear’ in quicksand

The owner of a horse and pony who “disappeared” in quicksand on a bridlepath has spoken of her terror and urged others to be aware of riding in the area.

Claire Healy was riding her 17.2hh point-to-pointer Henry with her 14-year-old daughter Megan, on her pony Belle, when they came into difficulty on 30 November. The pair had been riding with another teenage rider on a bridlepath at Merthyr Mawr beach in Glamorgan, south Wales, when Henry and Belle went down. 

“Henry slipped and disappeared. Belle, who was behind, did exactly the same,” said Claire.

“It was absolutely terrifying, Harry was in the sand up to his back and Belle up to her head. It all happened so suddenly.”

Claire called the emergency services but said the operator had difficulty finding them.

“We were in the middle of nowhere,” she said. “Megan’s friend got off her pony to help and it took off but a man up ahead caught her and came to help us. He rang the coastguard who managed to track his phone using GPS.

“We were frantically trying to pull Henry and Belle out. Water was beginning to come in where Belle was and she was becoming more stuck. I really thought we were going to lose her, it was awful.” 

Claire said they were eventually able to pull Henry and Belle out before the fire crew reached them an hour later.

“We were so lucky that Henry and Belle stayed so calm. We let them rest when they needed to and every time they tried to move we would pull them and eventually they were free,” she said.

“I’ve never see anything like it. Thankfully they weren’t injured and we were able to walk them back to the lorry.”

Claire said the incident was “surreal”.

“You wouldn’t think anything like that could happen. It was a blessing we got them out, I think someone was watching over us,” she said.

“On our way back to the lorry we passed someone else arriving with their horse, I showed him the photos and he was shocked at what had happened.”

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Claire wants others to be aware of the area, which she said is used by many point-to-point owners for training, and has reported the bridlepath to the council.

“One of the fire service crew said it might have been caused by the weather as we’ve had a lot of rain,” she said.

“We train on the beach because it keeps the horses fresh and gives them some fun but we’ll never go there again – it’s too dangerous, not just for horses but for dog walkers too.”

A spokesman for South Wales Fire and Rescue Service told H&H the service support the RSPCA advice of, don’t put your own or another life in danger to attempt an animal rescue.

“If an animal is in trouble please call the emergency services on 999,” he said.

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