Stricken Frosty the pony rescued from mud in Belvedere
PUBLISHED: 12:20 20 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:20 20 December 2019
Firefighters rescued a horse found in freezing conditions at the bottom of a muddy bank in Norman Road, Belvedere.
The yearling had falling down a steep bank and was unable to get back up before collapsing with exhaustion.
Rescuers said the horse - nicknamed Frosty - was on the "brink of death".
Concerned members of the public had raised the alarm with calls to the RSPCA and London Fire Brigade on the afternoon of Wednesday December 18.
RSPCA animal collection officer Lisa Miller said: "Sadly we are often called out to collapsed horses and find it's too late and that they've died. It's so dangerous when horses go down and can't get back up as they're internal organs can fail under the weight of their own bodies.
"When I arrived at the scene in Belvedere London Fire Brigade had just arrived and we were quickly able to tell that the pony was in a perilous situation.
"He'd slipped down a muddy bank and was stuck, laying on his side, with his back legs caught around a tree and his front legs in the river. He'd been trying to get back to his feet and was exhausted; he was on the brink of death."
A vet sedated him so the team could get the straps under him and start to winch him back up the bank.
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"By this point it was dark and raining so the poor pony was cold and we had to work quickly but carefully so as not to hurt him. We eventually got him back to the top and got his sopping wet rug off of him.
"The fire brigade left and the vet and I stayed with him as he slowly came around. He was absolutely exhausted and we were worried that he wouldn't recover from the ordeal but slowly he started to perk up and we eventually managed to heave him back up onto his feet."
The RSPCA left an abandonment notice at the site and removed the pony for further veterinary treatment.
Rachel Atherton, from Lingfield Equine Vets, who assisted with the rescue said: "It was touch and go for Frosty overnight but he's really perked up today and is doing really well.
"He hasn't stopped eating and is now clean and happy. He is a real trooper.
"There were a few points where I wasn't sure whether he was going to make it but he's proved he's a little fighter. He's a Christmas miracle!"
Frosty will stay with the vets until he is strong enough to move to an RSPCA centre. If no one comes forward to claim him then he'll be rehomed by the charity.
This winter, the RSPCA expects to take in more than 10,000 animals in need across England and Wales as more become lost or simply just abandoned after Christmas.
To help them deliver vital supplies to thousands of abused, neglected and abandoned animals left out in the cold this Christmas, visit www.rspca.org.uk/giftofkindness and watch your virtual gifts fill up the Santa sleigh.