STUCK in the mud and in a real spot of bother, one lucky horse owes her life to the Coffs Harbour State Emergency Service crews who came to her rescue yesterday.
The mare named Harriet got into strife when she decided to take a short cut across a creek on a Bonville property.
Entangled in weeds and stuck on her side in a metre-deep muddy pond, it soon became clear to her rescuers that Harriet would not be able to free herself.
Wilson McOrist, who owns the property where Harriet is agisted, said it took two hours for the SES rescue team, with the help of Pacific Vet Care staff to pull her to safety.
On the other side of her trauma, Harriet's successful rescue came as a huge relief to her owners, Mel, Simon and Gay Dobson of Bellingen.
"The horse was sedated, straps wound around her body, ropes attached to the straps and her head held up so she could breathe," Mr McOrist said.
"With the team from the SES pulling hard and often, Harriet was hauled to safety.
"What an organisation the SES is; it's good work that they do absolutely wonderful work."
Back to the paddock, the horse was uninjured.
"It's a good thing she wasn't alone in the paddock this morning, as I was out spraying weeds when I noticed all of the other horses staring down at the creek, which is quite unusual.
"I went down and all I could see was her head just above the surface I was thinking about pulling her out with a tractor, but we didn't have much time.
SES controller Bob White said it was one of the more unusual rescues local crews had responded to this year.
"It's not too often we get called to free a horse from a waterhole, but our crews do train in these types of rescues," Mr White said.
"In fact one of our volunteers, Terry Gill, has just completed his heavy-animal rescue training and this was the first chance he has had to put the training into practice; he did so with a lot of help.
"Rescuing trapped animals is just another area of speciality for the SES, a job well done by our crews."