Horse dies after dramatic cliff rescue

RSPCA inspector Nicky Thorne comforts a horse after she found it found hanging by its neck over a cliff.
RSPCA inspector Nicky Thorne comforts a horse after she found it found hanging by its neck over a cliff.

A tethered pony found hanging by his neck off a cliff in England was at the centre of a dramatic rescue, but sadly could not be saved.

The pony died six hours after the rescue from a collapsed windpipe.

Inspector Nicky Thorne, who cut the gypsy cob free, comforted the animal she named Frank as emergency services swung into action to get it safety.

“I was so upset,” she recalls. “I kept telling the horse he would be the most famous and looked-after horse in Suffolk if he pulled through and then to lose him after six hours of trying to save him was awful.

“I called the horse Frank after Frank Sinatra as he had blue eyes, and I will remember him for a long time.”

Thorne was called out on Friday night to the incident at Pontins Pakefield Holiday Park in Lowestoft.

She walked along the beach with her torch trying to locate the horse and then, shining her torch upwards, saw the young gypsy cob dangling from his neck over the cliff.

Thinking the horse was already dead, she desperately scrambled up the cliff and called Suffolk Fire and Rescue for help.

As she reached the horse she realised he was still breathing and cut him loose from his tether with her pocket knife. She then sat with the horse, wrapping him in her coats until the fire service arrived.

The horse was unconscious. The fire service gave him oxygen and took turns sitting and holding his head, wrapping him in covers and tarpaulins to keep him warm.

Thorne said: “By this point, I was shaking and in shock – all I could think about was the horse and I didn’t want to leave him. The fire service were absolutely excellent and really cared. I can’t thank them enough.”

The coastguard was also called along with veterinarian Nic de Brauwere from Redwings Horse Sanctuary in Norfolk. De Brauwere got the horse on to a drip on the beach before he was loaded into a horse box.

“Nic was fantastic and spent the hour-long journey to Redwings in the horse box with the horse, administering all the emergency care he could and ringing round for advice on the specific injuries,” Thorne said.

“Another Redwings vet also came out to help despite it being almost midnight.”

On arrival at Redwings, the trailer was lowered and they started to unload the horse.

Tragically, the horse died just as they were trying to unload him. His windpipe had collapsed, leaving him unable to breathe.

“I am so grateful to the fire service, to the coastguard and to Redwings – everyone went above and beyond to try to save this horse’s life.”

The RSPCA re-stated its warning against the dangerous practice of tethering horses.

Thorne added: “The RSPCA is against tethering and this shows just how dangerous it is.”


4 thoughts on “Horse dies after dramatic cliff rescue

  • March 4, 2013 at 1:14 am

    Thanks to all those who came to the horses rescue. It was a shame it was all for naught. May some good come from Frank’s passing and may people stop tethering horses, especially when no one is around.

  • March 4, 2013 at 11:24 am

    Where was the owner during all of this?

  • March 5, 2013 at 2:17 am

    Thank you for this story. We teach large animal emergency rescue and collect items for our courses – this is a good incident. Obviously – not tethering horses and better observation of one’s horses are good ways to prevent this type of tragedy.
    However, I would ask why the horse was not euthanized immediately – since it’s chances of recovery were so small? Perhaps there are other details of the story that were not printed here.
    Thank you for the story.
    Dr. Rebecca Gimenez


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