Release date: 8 July 2020
A horse that found itself shoulder deep in water drew on all of West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service’s rescue techniques to get her back safely on dry land.
Firefighters from Bognor Regis Fire Station and officers from the service’s Technical Rescue Unit were mobilised to a field near Shripney Lane on Monday (June 29) at around 6.30pm after the owner called for assistance to rescue the stranded horse named Millie.
Adrian Kirkpatrick, Crew Manager of the TRU, said: “When we arrived we found Millie standing quite calmly in the water, but she was unable to climb back out again as the bank was so muddy, and quite steep.
“As with any water rescue involving a person or an animal, the first and most important action you can take is to try and talk them in to the side without having to go into the water yourself. But despite all our reassurances, and those from the owner as well, Millie was having none of it and was unable to climb out on her own.
“Two of the crew, who are swift water rescue trained, waded into the water carefully and slid a harness around her, and tried a number of different techniques to get her moving again.
“It became clear quite quickly though that she would need to be lifted out as she wasn’t going anywhere under her own steam. The owner was right to give us a call to get Millie out of the water, as we would never advise members of the public to attempt a rescue from water - especially when there is a large animal involved.
“We carefully connected the harness that was under her body up to the winch on one of our off-road vehicles and after lining the bank with some thick plastic sheeting so she wasn’t injured as we hauled her out, we pulled her slowly back up onto dry land.”
But even when back on dry land, Millie didn’t show any inclination to get back on her feet.
Adrian explained: “Horse rescues can be incredibly complex, and this one was no exception. Sometimes when horses feel the ground beneath them they get straight back up again, but sometimes they need a bit of a helping hand even to do this. Their legs can go to sleep if they’ve been in the water for a prolonged period of time, and sometimes the shock of the situation they find themselves in can all just be too much.
“Gently, we rolled her from one side over onto her other side, and this did the trick – this was the adrenaline rush she needed to get back up again.
“Thankfully she was none the worse for wear for her ordeal, just a little damp and wet from being in the water.”