THREE fire crews were needed to haul a horse out of a ditch in the dead of night.
The animal had fallen down a 5ft-deep muddy embankment and was left hopelessly flailing in water at the bottom.
Barking dogs at Crows Meadow Farm, in Dalton Back Lane, on the outskirts of Hartlepool, woke the owners just before 4am and they called the fire brigade after trying to drag the nag out themselves.
Firefighters from Hartlepool, Stockton and Thornaby were called into action and man-handled the horse to safety after a vet sedated the animal.
Peter Hart, a crew manager at Stranton Fire Station, said: “It was the first time I’ve been called to rescue a horse.
“A few lads have had different rescues like this in the past. It’s definitely not usual.”
He said the animal seemed unharmed after its ordeal.