THESE dramatic pictures show the moments when brave firefighters risked their lives to rescue a horse from a treacherous frozen lake.
The eleven-strong team spent more than two hours painstakingly chipping away the ice after the horse became trapped in the water at Patshull Park Hotel Golf and County Club in Pattingham, Shropshire.
When they arrived at the scene, only the head and neck of thoroughbred mare Ghilie were visible above the ice.
She was frantically paddling to stay afloat, but had strayed beyond of her depth when the ice beneath her gave way.
It was a 999 call from Melanie Brown, who was enjoying a Christmas morning stroll when she spotted the distressed animal, that alerted the fire service to Ghilie’s plight.
And the brave crew has now been recognised by the RSPCA for the heroic rescue effort, in which they used inflated walkways, ropes and harnesses to free Ghilie from the water.
Ms Brown, who made the emergency call, said:
“My partner and I were walking around the lake when we spotted something poking out of the ice. At first we thought it was a log but then it moved and I said ‘that’s a horse!’ to my partner.
“I called 999 straight away, I had no idea who to ask for but I just knew I had to do something quickly and they said it was the fire service I needed.”
After the crew had pulled Ghilie from the freezing water, her condition was critical and she received emergency treatment at the scene.
Owner Sue Taylor, an equine vet, spent a further two hours stabilising the distressed animal.
She said: “Ghillie has always been a rather nosey and adventurous horse but this time it was very nearly the end of her.
“She escaped relatively unscathed except for a wound on her leg and a burn on her neck. I have noticed that her character has changed since the rescue; she is slightly quieter now, more circumspect and less bossy.
” I cannot thank the fire and rescue officers enough for saving Ghillie’s life as that is what is amounted to.
“I am also extremely grateful to Melanie Brown and her partner for their part in Ghillie’s rescue.”