An owner has thanked firefighters who rescued her pony after he had fallen in a ditch.

Firefighters were called to Thorpe Green Equestrian Centre in Colchester Road, Thorpe-le-Soken on Wednesday (October 22) after Dom, a 36-year-old retired riding school pony, had fallen into a ditch.

An on-call firefighter whose full-time job involves working with horses put his expertise into action when he was called to rescue a pony.

Donna Smith, who runs the centre and DS Holistic Equine Therapy, has owned Dom for 25 years.

She said: “Because he has chronic arthritis in all four legs he roams the 70-acre site to keep him supple. He got some electric fencing wrapped around his leg; it pulled him over and he slid into the ditch.

“Me and my father tried to use a forklift truck to lift him out for about an hour but we couldn’t get him over the lip of the ditch.”

On-call firefighters from Weeley Fire Station were first on the scene, led by Crew Manager Mark Kilbey.

Mark is an equestrian stud manager, looking after 25 horses and taking them to competitions around the country.

He used his experience to keep Dom calm until the Animal Rescue Unit arrived from Chelmsford Fire Station.

Mark, who has been an on-call firefighter for eight years, said: “The horse was really calm so we just made him comfortable until the Animal Rescue Unit arrived.

"I explained I have worked with horses all my life and they were happy for me to get involved. It was a well-orchestrated rescue and the pony was soon back on his feet, I was really impressed with our Animal Rescue team.”

Firefighters used specialist equipment to lift Dom to safety at 10.05am and left him in the care of Donna and a vet.