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Hoylake RNLI hovercraft crew assist in rescue of two horses stuck in thick mud

Lifeboats News Release

Two horses and their riders have been rescued from thick mud after becoming stuck while riding on the Wirral coast.

Hoylake RNLI hovercraft H-005 Hurley Spirit was tasked by the UK Coastguard at 10.26am on Saturday 13 April. The hovercraft launched and arrived on scene offshore from Leasowe Golf Club within minutes, where the Flint and Wirral Coastguard Rescue Team, the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and RNLI Lifeguards were assessing the situation. The young horse riders had been assisted to safety by the Coastguard and were under the care of the North West Ambulance Service and their parents.

One horse had already been freed and led to safety, but the other was stuck up to its belly in very thick mud. The Hoylake RNLI volunteers, Coastguard, and Fire Service officers began digging together to free the horse's legs. The RNLI crew and Coastguard also used their mud lances in an attempt to soften the sand with water and compressed air, but the mud proved too thick for this equipment. After some further digging, and with gentle encouragement from the emergency services, the horse managed to free itself but became stuck again.

The RNLI volunteers and the Fire Service deployed their mud boards and mats to provide the horse with some firmer footing. The horse was freed again and managed to climb onto the boards with some assistance. A vet on the scene then administered a sedative to avoid any further distress to the animal and to help the emergency services to move it to shore safely. The horse was guided along the mud boards before eventually reaching firmer ground. Once ashore, the horse was led into a horse box to receive further assistance and treatment.

With both horses and their riders safely ashore, the RNLI volunteer crew recovered the hovercraft's equipment and returned to Hoylake Lifeboat Station.

Volunteer hovercraft crew member Ian Farrall has experience of working with horses. Ian said: 'Considering the ordeal the horse had been through, its behaviour was exceptional in what was clearly a distressing situation. The emergency service teams worked really well together, pooling their resources and experience to ensure a good outcome in very difficult circumstances.'

'Walking and horse riding is a safe activity most of the time but it is important to be aware of the risks. The sand and mud around the Wirral coast can be dangerous and coastal conditions can change over time. We would advise horse riders and walkers to check local safety notices and to always carry a means of calling for help. If you get into difficulty on the coast, or see someone else in difficulty, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.'

Notes to editors

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The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and has more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,400 lives.

RNLI/Chris Green

Hoylake RNLI volunteers and the other emergency services worked together to free the trapped horse

RNLI/Chris Green

Hoylake RNLI volunteers and the other emergency services worked together to free the trapped horse

RNLI/Chris Green

The horse was stuck in thick mud up to its belly

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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