A horse was rescued by firefighters from a moorland culvert in West Yorkshire after being stranded for more than 30 hours.
The owners of seven-year-old Frankie launched a desperate search to find him after he went missing in thick fog this week. Fire crews said a heavy overnight downpour meant the horse may have drowned had he not been rescued.
Firefighters from West Yorkshire’s Technical Rescue Team were called to the scene at at Rishworth, Sowerby Bridge, at 1pm on Wednesday. His owners had tracked him down but were unable to lead him to safety.
A local vet from Hird and Partners was called in to sedate Frankie while firefighters set up a tripod to winch the stallion to safety.
Mark Allen, station manager at Cleckheaton fire station, said: “The culvert was about 10 foot deep and runs about three miles. The horse had been in the field next to the culvert and could not get out. It was a very unusual situation.
“We set up a tripod in conjunction with the local vet who did a fantastic job. He sedated the horse and we got in and put a head collar on.”
Yorkshire Water reduced the water flow through the culvert which decreased the depth from around three and a half foot of fast flowing water to eight inches in the bottom.
Mr Allen said: “We lifted the horse through the tripod system and left him in the hands of the owner and vet.”
He added that with the heavy downpour overnight into today Frankie could have been in grave danger had he not been found when he was.
He said: “Overnight, if the culvert had swollen with water, it could have gone over the horse’s head.”
Frankie's owner Claire Robinson, 39, realised her horse was missing on Tuesday morning.
She said: “He was in the field on Monday teatime when we left and Tuesday morning my friend said she had not seen him. We searched ourselves for quite a long time. I was really worried. I thought ‘he is going to be dead’ or someone has pinched him.”
She and her partner Lee Gibbison, 35, searched the surrounding area until 2am in the morning on Wednesday and finally found Frankie at around 11am later the same day. Having tried to walk Frankie out themselves they finally called on the emergency services.
Ms Robinson, who lives in Rochdale and has had Frankie for 10 weeks, added: “He is fine now. He walked down to the stables at the bottom
“The fire crews and the vet did a fantastic job. I was panicking at one point that he would not make it because he was in there so long. I reckon he was in there 36 hours plus. The weather was impossible to find him yesterday.”