A HORSE with its leg trapped in a footbridge has been rescued by Berkshire fire crews after a four hour struggle.

Reports of a horse needing rescue in Common Road, Eton Wick were received soon after 9.30am this morning.

A crew from Windsor, the Animal Rescue Unit from Caversham Road, Reading and the Heavy Rescue Unit went to the scene and found Buster, a 28-year-old horse with one of his rear legs stuck in a wooden footbridge.

Firefighters rescued Buster by sliding strops underneath him and then employing the crane on the back of the Heavy Rescue Unit to lift him clear of the bridge.

This was following heavy sedation administered by the vet. It was a standard rescue technique but made difficult by the environment - on a narrow footbridge - and the position of Buster with one hind leg through the bridge.

It took three hours and 45 minutes to rescue Buster before he could be winched to safety and some damage to the bridge had to be reported to the Royal Borough.

Neil Carter, group manager, said: “I’d like to thank all the firefighters involved in the incident and give them my praise for working so hard. They made sure that the animal was freed safely and returned to his owner, who was very helpful throughout. This ensured a calm environment for our crews to work in was maintained throughout the rescue.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to remind our residents to make sure that gates are kept closed so that animals, like this one, do not escape and injure themselves. If you’re leaving a field, always make sure that the gate is securely shut behind you.”

The Animal Rescue Unit is comprised of a team of firefighters who are trained in specialist animal rescue techniques and experience in dealing with animal behaviour. Although the team try not to use mechanical lifting where possible, this is sometimes necessary in the rescue of larger animals with the support of the Heavy Rescue Unit.