A JCB was used to rescue a New Forest pony that became trapped on its back in a deep muddy ditch.

Firefighters from New Milton and Eastleigh rushed to Eagles Wood Farm at Sway when stable workers raised the alarm after finding the gelding, named Merlin, stuck fast.

Animal rescue specialist Jim Green attended and an equine vet sedated the pony before the rescue attempt could take place.

horse rescueThe digger was used to widen the ditch which meant strops could be placed around the pony so that it could be dragged backwards along a special rescue path. Hobbles had to be fixed to the pony’s legs so its hooves could be kept clear of the digger bucket and its rescuers.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue rural safety officer Jim Green said it had been a challenging incident but he was delighted the horse had been rescued and nobody was hurt.