Fire crews spent two hours rescuing a stricken horse which got stuck down a river bank in Barnsley.
The six-year-old, called Romeo, who suffered only scratches in his ordeal yesterday morning, was today at home in his field recovering.
His owner Louise Smillie, aged 46, said she had been due to go riding with a friend when she found out via Facebook that one of her horses had got stuck in the river close to the field in Smithies Lane, Smithies.
She said Romeo, an Appaloosa gelding, must have gone looking for grass in the field where he was kept when he wandered down to the river.
Louise said the RSPCA sent an officer out who alerted the vet and rang 999.
“I went into the river and tried to help him out but he was stuck really deeply in the mud,” she said.
“The firefighters were there really quickly, along with the vet, and they were amazing.
“Every time he tried to inch himself out he just sunk deeper and deeper into the mud.”
Romeo was sedated by the vet while firefighters from Cudworth, Edlington, Aston Park and Tankersley stations dug through the river bank to create an escape route for him.
Louise, from Royston, Barnsley, said around 12 firefighters eventually used a safety harness to pull Romeo out of the mud.
“They were pulling with all their might but they were reassuring him all the time, stroking him and making sure he didn’t get anxious,” she said.
Station manager Simon Dillon said: “This wasn’t an easy rescue at all and our firefighters worked extremely hard to dig away the bank.
“The large tree roots in the banking made that really difficult, but we got there in the end.
“Once out, he trotted over to his owner and let out a neigh of thanks to the crews.
“He was checked over at the scene by the vet and, other than a couple of scrapes where he had tried to get out himself, he was unharmed by the experience.”
Simon added: “The specialist equipment that we carry on our new heavy rescue pumps is ideally suited to this kind of large animal rescue, and we used a lot of it, including harnesses and winches.”
Louise said: “He’s been pampered and he seems to have a few scratches – he’s been very lucky.
“I can’t thank the vet and the fire crews enough. Without them he wouldn’t be here now.”
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s four heavy rescue pumps were introduced last year.
The vehicles, which look like traditional fire engines, are equipped to deal with a range of rescue scenarios, from house fires to more challenging technical incidents such as large animal rescues.