FIRE crews from Bolton and Eccles today revealed their hitherto secret skillset as horse whisperers in a "bizarre" rescue.

The crews were called at around 9.30am to rescue a horse on the ground in a field at New Butterworth Farm, off Cox Green Road in Egerton, and unable to get back up.

The 29-year-old mare's owners and several others had already attempted to right the horse but had not been able to.

Although horses do lay down to enjoy REM sleep it can be a dangerous sign, potentially leading to nerve damage, "down" lung and reperfusion injuries — where blood flow is prevented from reaching parts of the body.

Specially trained to handle large animal rescues, the crews had several plans ready to help rescue the horse, involving technical machinery.

However as the crew members approach the mare, she surprised everyone by making a miraculous recovery and standing up.

Eccles Community Fire Station watch manager, Baz Hulme, said: "It was all a bit bizarre.

"When we got there we had a plan A, B and C in place and it all looked like it was going to go like clockwork.

"The horse, a 29-year-old female, weighed over half a ton, and if horses lay down it can be really bad.

"A vet was already there so we stared moving our people in, but as soon as we got near it started moving.

"We must have startled it, so we backed off because we didn't want to get kicked."

Watch manager Hulme also added a warning to people and large animal owners never to attempt to rescue them if they are difficulty, without fire service assistance.

He said: "In the interests of public safety, people should phone the fire service because we have the right tools and will turn out to assist any large animals that are in need of rescue."