TEN firefighters battled to pull a one-eyed horse from a river in Ringley.
21-year-old Ruby had been out with rider Karen Haslam at about 10.30am today when, with Miss Haslam walking beside her, Ruby fell into the River Irwell.
Miss Haslam, of Kearsley, grabbed Ruby’s reigns and fought to keep her head above water while calling 999.
Firefighters based at Whitefield fire station were called to the scene and tried to pull Ruby out, but they needed help from colleagues based at Heywood, who have a water aid unit.
After an hour of trying to get Ruby out of the water, firefighters managed to pull the animal to safety and called upon more colleagues based at Broughton to get her off the river bank.
Ruby, who lost an eye to illness in her younger years, has since been checked over by a vet and has not suffered a lasting injury.
The horse kept calm throughout the ordeal, despite enduring low temperatures for two hours.
Miss Haslam said: “I am so relieved that it all turned out okay and I would like to sing the fire service’s praises.
“All the firefighters did a really good job on what has been a stressful afternoon.
“Ruby kept so calm and coped brilliantly with the shock of being in the river.”
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A fire service spokesman said: “It took ten firefighters to pull Ruby out of the water.
“Fortunately for us, the horse kept very calm throughout, which helped with the rescue attempt.
“It is just a freak accident that we, thankfully, don’t deal with very often but it turned out well.”