The tragic death of a horse after being bogged in deep mud in Cumbria, England, has prompted a police warning for owners to be careful following the country’s sodden winter.
Cumbria police said many routes used by riders remained extremely wet and muddy, which presented additional risks to horses.
Police were called to Castlerigg in Keswick to help the trapped horse, a 25-year-old named Sam, around 8.30pm on March 7.
A vet sedated Sam and firefighters managed to free him, but he was subsequently euthanised for medical reasons.
Sam’s owner, a 20-year-old woman from Keswick, found that he had sunk into a pit full of “quicksand-like mud” in a field.
She stayed with him for almost two hours until he could be freed.
“The experience was terrifying and heart-breaking,” she recounted.
“Sam went straight down and under. There was mud everywhere and every time he moved it sucked him back down. It wouldn’t let him go.
“I’ve been riding for around 15 years and have never had a drama. I didn’t see any signs and didn’t realise it was so boggy.
“When I saw the emergency services and vet I was so relieved. I was starting to get overwhelmed.”
Fire crews worked with a veterinary team to free the horse. The firemen could not use much of their equipment as the fire truck could not access the area due to the ground conditions.
Constable Alan Taylor said Cumbria offered appealing riding opportunities for riders. “However, to ensure your safety when out riding there are a number of precautions you can take such as wearing suitable protective and reflective clothing, carrying a mobile phone with you at all times and always telling somebody where you are going and how long you expect to be.
“This type of tragic incident can be avoided by such things as sticking to dry paths and walkways, checking routes on foot first, don’t go into flooded, wet, or muddy areas or take unnecessary risks. If in doubt take an alternative route or return the way you came. You never know how deep the mud may be.
“If you are unable to avoid the route ensure the horse walks, avoid trotting or cantering. Even slipping or falling can risk the horse through strains, ligament or tendon damage. At the least there is the inconvenience of a pulled shoe.
“If your horse does become stuck in mud, dismount and let go of the reins, but only if it is safe to do so. Most horses can free themselves from boggy situations.”