LOCAL knowledge and a passing stranger’s vital advice saved the life of a 26 year-old horse that fell into the canal at Leigh.

At midday on Sunday Susan Fox and two others decided to ride their horses along the Bridgewater Canal towpath from Marsland Green bridge towards Leigh.

But disaster struck as they approached Butts Bridge when Susan’s mount Ebby, a 16.2-hands ex-racehorse, panicked and slipped backwards into the canal.

“A fire crew arrived at the scene but were unable to assist until a specialist water rescue team arrived from Eccles,” said Susan.

Her horse swam out to the middle of the canal then returned and three times tried to climb out, injuring his legs and suffering a big wound to his stomach which he caught on steel pilings that retain the canal bank at that point.

Susan said: “I took my things off to go in and try to calm him, I really thought he was going to die.

“But then along came a local lad who fishes there and his advice probably saved Ebby’s life.

“He told us where there was a ledge and the water was shallower and Ebby was able to walk out.

“I don’t know who he was but he was an absolute star.

“I’d like to thank him and the people living near the canal who came out with towels, plus Michelle and Warren Bowdler.”

After being given painkillers and having his wounds cleaned by vet Peter Fenton, Susan’s veteran black beauty was recovering from his ordeal at Keith and Christine Dickenson’s Hope View Farm stables at Marsland Green.