A mare is recovering after escaping from her field when a gate was left open by trespassers and she fell into a river.

Tegan Harteveld, who has owned 14-year-old grey mare Luna since she was 10 months old, said she received a What’s App message around 1pm yesterday (Saturday, 15 May) telling her six horses had escaped and one was in the river.

“There’s a gate at the back of the field, which nobody uses except the waterboard,” said Tegan. “It leads on to a water bank and the river is behind it. We think dog owners have been using it as a cut through because the ground has been so wet, but there is no public right of way through the field.”

When Tegan arrived at her yard in North Hykeham, Lincolnshire, three fire engines and a quick response vehicle were already on site.

Luna couldn’t get her footing on the silt ground

“Two guys from the yard had managed to get a headcollar and two lead reins on Luna,” she said. “One of them went in waist-deep and she swam to them and followed them to the side. She was exhausted because she couldn’t touch the bottom and her head was bobbing under the water. We don’t know how long she’d been swimming for, but it was over an hour.

“The ground is silt, so any time she tried to get her footing, she slipped,” continued Tegan. “Then she made a big effort, slipped and pulled away. She got free and started swimming up the river again.”

‘She was panicking’

A fire rescuer waded in wearing waterproofs to intercept Luna.

A rescuer wades in to help Luna

“She was panicking, and tried to speed up and go round, but they caught one of the lead reins and managed to pull her round and guide her to the shore,” added Tegan. “We tried the bank further up the river to no avail; she couldn’t get any footing.”

“They managed to get a strap around her and through the front legs. It took around about 10 people to pull her on to the bank using a pull and release technique. I said to hold [the pull] for a bit longer – 15 to 20 seconds – and then release because that’s how I’ve trained her to go in a trailer so she knows what to do.

“On the second attempt, they managed to pull her front legs on the bank and then they pulled her back legs on.”

Lines and straps are used to pull the mare on to land

‘I thought she was dead’

Tegan expected her mare to take some time to recover from her ordeal. However, “she got straight up and marched the fireman back to her field — she dragged him!”

Luna was sedated and examined by vet Barbara Nigris. A rug was put on to help the grey dry and warm up.

“She’s got a few scrapes, but the vet said she’s a strong, fighting horse. Her legs were a little swollen this morning, but that could just be from where she’s been standing in. She’s back out in the field now and happy. We’ll keep an eye on her as the adrenalin subsides.”

Luna is straight back on to her feet

Tegan added that there is no right of way through the field which is home to 10 horses — four stayed in the field — but it cannot be padlocked due to the waterboard requiring access.

“You have to lift the gate to move it, so we know it wasn’t the horses who did it,” added Tegan. “The whole thing was terrible. I felt totally helpless and really thought she was dead at one point. It’s so important that people close gates behind them.”

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