Horseplay turns to tragedy

The boat approaches Molly
The boat approaches Molly

A WIGAN horse was recovering today after a dramatic river rescue.

The 16-year-old mare called Molly had wandered into a stretch of the River Douglas by Martland Mill, triggering a laborious rescue operation by firefighters.

The incident came just three days after another horse died from exhaustion when it became stuck in mud in Hindley.

RSPCA officials were called to the Martland Mill scene first and they alerted the fire service for their assistance at 10.43am yesterday.

Firemen from Wigan, alongside Water Incident Units from Eccles and Heywood, attended and began the three-hour process of rescuing the horse.

Thankfully Molly remained relatively calm throughout her ordeal. Firefighters used an inflatable boat to get closer to her and deployed hose reels filled with air to help them lift her out of the water. Recent heavy rainfall and flooding meant water levels were higher than usual and the banks of the river were uneven and muddy, making the job much harder.

But the crews battled through the conditions and were fortunately not hampered by any more rain.

After a strenuous battle, Molly was eventually lifted from the water – not before having a nice nibble of grass on her way out.

Station manager Ben Levy helped lead the operation and praised his firefighters, the RSPCA and the emergency vet who attended the scene for all their efforts.

He said: “We were called to the scene following a report of a horse in the river. It was quite calm but it was in a rather difficult situation. The banks were also quite heavy and overgrown.

“We attended after a request from the RSPCA and with their advice we used two Water Incident Units and an inflatable boat.

“Thankfully we managed to retrieve the horse from the water and the owners, who were with us, were very thankful indeed. Those who helped with the rescue did a fantastic job and we’re very pleased it had a happy outcome.”