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Horse rescued after two hours stuck in a ditch in Ash near Sandwich

By Eleanor Perkins

A nursery assistant found herself in a nightmare situation when her 20-year-old horse fell into a dyke on Saturday.

Gemma Booth, 26, of Brightlingsea Road, Sandwich, was an hour into an afternoon ride out with Gabby, who she has owned for four years, when the animal was spooked, lost her footing and ended up in a ditch in Ash.

But thanks to the specialist help of the Kent Fire and Rescue animal team, based in Faversham, the two escaped with just bruising.

Firefighters rescued Gemma Booth's horse Gabby from a dyke in Ash
Firefighters rescued Gemma Booth's horse Gabby from a dyke in Ash

Miss Booth, who works at St Faith’s School, is now trying to raise money and awareness for the team who she says saved her horse’s life.

She said: “It was the most horrific experience of my life.

“We’d been out competing the weekend before so I’d given her a week off and this was our first hack out.”

They were in Cooper Street Drove when something spooked her.

Miss Booth said: “She fell on my leg and I was in sheer panic.

“I needed to get myself from underneath her and get her on her feet and out. But she was splashing around and the mud was so thick and sticky that she got stuck.”

Firefighters used a crane to pull Gabby out after two hours of being stuck in the ditch
Firefighters used a crane to pull Gabby out after two hours of being stuck in the ditch

Miss Booth’s riding partner Suzie Inglis managed to flag down a van whose driver stopped and phoned the fire service.

Others came to help including a farmer and her vet Lukasz Lukaszczyk, from East Kent Equine based in Deal, before three KFRS first responder vehicles arrived.

She said: “They were fantastic. They calmed me down and were so kind and loving towards Gabby, stroking her head.

“They talked me through what was going to happen.”

The fire crew arrived with 30 minutes of the call. They used a crane to pull Gabby, who had been sedated, from the dyke, bringing the two-hour ordeal close to an end.

After waiting for the sedation to wear off, Miss Booth then had to get her pet home.

Gabby after the ordeal
Gabby after the ordeal

Gabby refused to go into a horse box, instead jogged the 20-minute journey back to her stables in Ash.

Miss Booth said: “I couldn’t help but laugh.

“She’s been through all that and I was the one that was hobbling. She’s a tough cookie.

“I still don’t know how we both got out with just bumps and bruises. It’s a miracle.

“I couldn’t have done it without the animal rescue team. They’re a service that often gets forgotten about and they do a fantastic job.

“Some people aren’t even aware they exist. That’s why I’m looking into ways I could raise money for them.

“They told me they get a couple of call-outs a week to cows, sheep, horses.

“They saved my horse’s life and I can’t thank them enough.”

Gemma Booth with her horse Gabby
Gemma Booth with her horse Gabby

Miss Booth is taking on the Tough Mudder assault course in 2018 and has decided to collect sponsorship towards the service.

The former Walmer Secondary School pupil has been riding since she was three-and-a-half years old and spends mornings, evenings and weekends at the stables. She has another horse called William, 10.

She said: “Horses have always been my passion. I can’t imagine a world without them.

“My mare doesn’t like to do things by halves. I’m hoping this is our quota of big accidents.”

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