Hoylake RNLI hovercraft crew assist in rescue of two horses stuck in thick mud
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.'
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Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. 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 142,700 lives.