A HORSE found itself in deep water after falling in to a water-filled trench in Bridgwater.

The RSPCA and Devon and Somerset firefighters were called out to help rescue the animal on September 13 after it was found by a walker almost completely submerged in the trench, at Stawell.

It emerged the horse, named Oliver, had strayed two miles from home after inspectors Jo Daniel and Hayley Lawrence tracking down his owner, Carol Easter, who until then had no idea he had escaped and gone for a long walk.

Inspector Daniel said: “Poor Oliver was in a very dangerous situation, he’s lucky to be alive.

"He was stuck a drainage ditch, known locally in Somerset as a ‘rhyne’, almost up to his neck in the water, which would have been so stressful for him.

"He must have been stuck in mud under the surface too, as he was unable to move at all without our help."

After the discovery, the inspectors got to work alongside the firefighters in a bid to free Oliver.

“Lifting a horse out of a ditch is a serious operation, so Inspector Lawrence and I knew we’d need the assistance of Devon and Somerset Fire Service, who sent their animal rescue unit out to help," Inspector Daniel said.

Six year old Oliver, a 15.1hh Thoroughbred X Warmblood, took the rescue in his stride, snacking on reeds in between attempts to try and struggle his way out of the ditch.

The team had put a head collar on him to keep his head above water in case he became too exhausted.

Inspector Daniel added: “Oliver was sedated by a vet and a fire officer climbed down into the water to secure a harness onto him, and then, using a special lifting mechanism on the fire engine, we managed to carefully lift Oliver out of the water.

"His owner washed him down and wrapped him up in a rug to keep him warm, and he was treated by the vet for his cuts and scrapes.

"I’m really pleased to say he’s escaped without very serious injury.

"We couldn’t have rescued Oliver without the specialist help of the fire service, so we’d like to say an enormous thank-you to the crew for their help in saving Oliver’s life.”

Oliver’s owner Carol said: “It was quite a surprise when, having received a phone call from Inspector Daniel asking for help, I arrived to see it was my horse.

"Oliver had been found in a rhyne two miles away from his field.

"I just can’t understand how he got there as it is so unusual for a horse to leave his friends.

"He lives out in a herd of youngsters and he was the only one who had got out. I can only think he had jumped the fence and couldn’t see his way home so went wandering the other side of the wood that runs the length of our land.”

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing animals in need of help like Oliver, visit: www.rspca.org.uk/give.