FIREFIGHTERS galloped to the rescue when a mare and yearling became trapped in a muddy river on the Laois-Kildare border.
Warm tributes have been paid to kind firemen and voluntary services, who spent painstaking hours bringing the animals to safety last week.
A spokesperson for My Lovely Horse Rescue (MLHR) voluntary group said: “The fire brigade were amazing. They wouldn’t give up, even when all seemed hopeless.”
The mare was trapped in mud and unable to escape from the river, while a yearling was also stuck on the mucky riverbank nearby at the bridge in Tankardstown on Wednesday evening. It was 11pm that night before the mare was safely removed from the water, following a difficult rescue operation involving gardaí, firefighters, animal welfare volunteers and members of the public.
The MLHR group has named the mare Eve, after the schoolgirl who raised the alarm when she spotted the horses trapped near the bridge as she walked home. She contacted the rescue group, who immediately put out an alert to emergency services.
Gardaí contacted the Athy fire crew, who rushed to the scene and began a rescue operation with the help of MLHR volunteers and members of County Carlow fire service. Local people also came forward in response to an appeal for horse boxes, temporary stables and veterinary attention. By around midnight, both mare and yearling were comfortably tucked up in warm stables.
According to MLHR workers, both horses are undernourished and are not chipped, so owners cannot be officially identified. Although the yearling is too young to be shod, he has badly-fitted horseshoes and his mane is shorn. The mare’s hooves are in appalling condition, as her shoes were burnt on and appear rarely if ever to have been cleaned.
The spokesperson said: “We cannot stress how much we need to force this issue and have enforcement of our laws, as people are clearly breaking them. We called this beautiful, gentle mare Eve after the young girl who alerted everyone while heading home from school earlier in the evening. We also want to thank Athy fire brigade, who were simply amazing.”
The MLHR group, which relies on voluntary fundraising, has set up a gofundme page for anyone who wants to help the rescued mare and yearling. The link is www.gofundme.com and donations will be used to cover the cost of hay, feed, bedding and veterinary fees.
Speaking on its Facebook page, MLHR commented that the horses are now safe and sound. “We in KFS, especially the crew in Athy, were delighted to be able to offer our assistance to the horses and those involved with the organisations mentioned above.”