A FOUR-hour rescue operation to save a pregnant horse stuck in thick mud on a Doncaster construction site had a happy ending.
Firefighters were able to bring the mare back from the brink of death - thanks to the efforts of a digger driver who responded to a call for help on his day off.
Fire chiefs paid tribute to Armthorpe man Dave Oliver who gave up his Saturday to play a major role in the rescue near Balby Carr.
“He did a fantastic job,” said station manager Steve Adams, who was in charge of the delicate operation after the horse was spotted in distress by a walker.
“There was no way we would have got the horse out without his help because there was so much mud, which meant our machinery could not be used.”
The horse, belonging to nearby travellers, had wandered on to the site of the new road linking Woodfield Plantation and White Rose Way where silt had turned into a quagmire because of heavy rain.
Mr Adams said: “It was really stuck in this fine silt, all the way up to its chest and because it was bitterly cold on Saturday we were concerned because we didn’t know how long it had been there, it could have been stuck all night.
“The first thing we did was put a sheet over it to keep the cold wind off. We knew we needed a digger because of the state of the ground and it just happened one of the construction workers visiting the Tesco about 300m away saw what we were doing and contacted his boss to see if they could help.
“Within half an hour Mr Oliver had arrived with his digger and he was fantastic. He dug out all the mud and silt so we could manage to get out straps under the horse.
“He then carefully lifted the horse up and to the side where the ground was firmer. One of our colleagues owns horses and he looked after her until the RSPCA could take her back to the owner.
“The rescue took about 45 minutes after Mr Oliver arrived and it was a very rewarding one.”