Pony Rescued From Stream: Owner Praises Fire Crews But Has Concerns Over Staffing Levels
A dramatic rescue of a pony trapped in a stream has left its owner thankful to the skills of fire and rescue crews but fearful over perceived lack of cover within Surrey Fire & Rescue Service.
The drama unfolded last Sunday (June 2) when Sam Foreman made her daily morning visit to her 27-year-old pony, Storm, who she stables at a smallholding in Worplesdon. She has owned him since he was nine months old and says he is a “beautiful gentle soul”.
Sam Foreman’s pony, Storm, trapped in the stream. All pictures by Sam Foreman.
Sam takes up the story: “I arrived at about 8.30am and at first I couldn’t see him. Storm was lying down in the stream when I found him, the very cold water was washing around him, he whinnied when he saw me.
“I managed to put a head collar on him and tried to pull him out. He was fighting to get free but his back legs were stuck. The owner of the smallholding arrived and phoned the fire service.
“A crew from Guildford’s white watch soon arrived and assessed the situation. They told me they were calling an animal rescue team, but it would be coming from Lyndhurst in Hampshire as the Surrey one, based at Painshill in Cobham, was not on duty that weekend.”
Sam says that by this time her pony was in a poor condition, having probably been in the water for several hours. “He was cold,” continued Sam, “and his eyes were starting to roll and were white. Luckily it had not been a cold night.
“He’s a Dales pony and a native breed, so quite hardy by nature. But he is old – in human years equivalent to an 88-year-old.”
The animal rescue team, with firefighters from Lyndhurst and also Winchester, arrived at about 11am, and Sam says they carefully assessed the situation and it took numerous attempts to be push a body bar under Storm.”
Sam had also called a vet and she and the Guildford crew put hay bales beneath Storm that made him more comfortable.
She continues: “Finally, after about an hour, they managed to pull Storm free. The vet had sedated him and was concerned that he might be suffering from shock, hypothermia and the fact that he had been down so long, lack of circulation, and weight on internal organs. The longer a horse is down the less likely it is to survive.
Fire crews work to free the trapped pony.
“There was no circulation in his back legs and at first he wouldn’t stand up. He was propped up by more hay bales and the fire crews then rolled him over. Finally, he stood up and staggered around for a bit.
All working together to pull the pony from the water.
“The vet said his temperature was very low and she gave him some painkillers.”
Happily, Storm is now making a good recovery from his ordeal, but Sam wonders how he came to be in the stream as she knows that he does not usually go anywhere near water.
Storm was unable to stand and lays supported by hay bales.
Sam says: “He just doesn’t like water and we’ve noticed some cut marks on his back that were nothing to do with his rescue.”
She is extremely grateful to the fire crews but is alarmed at what appears to be a shortage of staff at Surrey fire stations. She said if the Surrey animal rescue team from Painshill had been on duty they would surely have arrived much quicker and her pony’s ordeal would not have been so prolonged.
Sam with her beloved Dales pony Storm.
Surrey Fire & Rescue has issued a statement following the incident. A spokesman said: “We have tried-and-tested plans in place to make sure we can always deal with incidents effectively and we continually monitor all our vehicles around the county, using new technology, so that people and equipment are in the right place at the right time.
“As a specialist appliance needing specific skills, the availability of the animal rescue unit is always subject to the availability of specially trained firefighters which naturally varies on a shift by shift basis, across the county. On the day of this incident, specialist assistance was requested from a neighbouring fire and rescue service – this is normal practice and we reciprocate for them when needed.”
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