Firefighters receive commendations from the RSPCA after horse rescue

Firefighters receive commendations from the RSPCA after horse rescue

Firefighters from Chesterfield and Matlock Red Watch attended the RSPCA Chesterfield and North Derbyshire Branch's Annual General Meeting on the 12 June and were awarded commendations following the rescue of a horse from the freezing river Rother.

On 31 January, a member of the public out walking their dog, spotted a horse stuck in the river Rother, between Halfway and Killamarsh. An RSPCA officer attended soon after to discover the horse in a difficult location down a steep river bank and it was decided that the help of the fire service was needed in this rescue.

Andy Sowden, RSPCA animal welfare officer (AWO), said: "Derbyshire Fire & Rescue service were brilliant throughout this rescue, and attended the scene very quickly.

"The horse was very tired and cold; and had probably been stuck in the river all night in freezing conditions.

"There were three RSPCA officers and a number of Firefighters involved in this rescue, as it was not an easy job trying to help a heavy animal escape from such an inaccessible spot. The horse moved into open water on its own accord, where we were able to attach a harness and rope.

"Eventually, with the fire brigade pulling on the rope, and with assistance in the water, the horse was slowly helped up the steep bank to safety. The horse was obviously very tired, but after we got it warm and dried up, it began eating grass and was in good shape.

"This was a very pleasing rescue with a great result, and I cannot thank the fire service enough for their help in this incident.

"Had the member of the public not phoned the RSPCA, and had Red Watch from the fire service not attended, the horse would almost certainly have died."

The rescue team needed to deploy a boat in order to reach the animal, as well as having rescuers in the cold water. The rescue took around three hours to complete.

It is thought that the horse walked or swam down river in an attempt to reach the long grass on the steep bank, but became unable to get back to open water and became stuck.

Bob Curry, Group Manager for Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service said "It is an honour that our Firefighters have been honoured by the RSPCA for this rescue. Working in such challenging conditions with animals that can be so unpredictable is not an easy job.

"We have specialist teams of Firefighters who train for circumstances like this and are always delighted when there is a happy outcome."