ABOUT a dozen firefighters grabbed ropes to pull a stricken 30-year-old horse from a ditch during a two hour rescue operation last night.
A crew from Teignmouth aided by the special animal rescue team from Plymouth used all their strength to haul the animal from its position in a field in Bishopsteignton.
Holly the horse was successfully rescued from the one-metre deep ditch and it was hoped she would make a full recovery.
But despite the best efforts of everyone she died in her owner's arms on Tuesday morning.
Teignmouth watch commander Gary Holland said: "Some people might say it is only a horse and question the use of resources but the horse meant a lot to somebody and the owner is distraught."
The fire brigade was called just before 7pm on Monday, August 19, to a field off Forder Lane.
The Teignmouth crew was met at the scene by Holly's owner and a vet. The horse was lying on its side and stable. It was not known how long it had been stuck.
The Teignmouth crew asked for the animal rescue crew from Plymouth and cleared brambles and trees from around the animal while they arrived.
The Urban Search and Rescue Unit from Exeter was also called. This unit is equipped with bulldozers and other lifting machinery and is trained to help the rescue of people from collapsed buildings.
Watch commander Holland said: "We put straps around the horse and the vet gave it a sedative so it wouldn't kick anybody.
"Then, with a lot of effort, we hauled it from the ditch. You can imagine how difficult it is to move half a tonne of animal.
"It was all done by manpower. We got it to a safe position away from the ditch and left at about 9pm.
"The sad news is that I got a phone call from the lady owner this morning and she said Holly died in her arms at about 6am."