A horse trapped 10ft underground for more than 24 hours was just minutes from being put down, the owners have revealed.
Sianey, a 14-year-old mare, fell into a disused concrete chamber in a field off Gillroyd Lane at Linthwaite on Monday afternoon.
She is thought to have fallen in backwards after accidentally disturbing stone flags that were covering up the disused water reservoir, close to the edge of the field.
She was initially given little chance of being pulled out alive as firefighters were unwilling to try and hoist her up without her being anaesthetised – something the vet said he could not do in such a confined space.
Joint owners Wendy Dyson, her mother Barbara Pinder and her daughter Amy Dyson had reluctantly agreed to have her put to sleep.
But Sianey was given new hope when the land owner Dennis Mellor arrived and volunteered to excavate a tunnel to the concrete hole for firefighters.
When rescue teams realised Sianey’s underground hole was big enough for her to stand up in they decided to attempt to cut her out.
Watch Sianey as she emerges from the hole after 30 hours.
Mr Mellor, who runs an excavation business, used his equipment to dig down to the old concrete chamber.
Technical rescue teams from Cleckheaton Fire Station then got to work using jackhammers and circular saws to slowly cut their way through the thick re-enforced wall.
And after over six hours of work by more than a dozen firefighters, the lucky horse was able to simply trot back out into the field, just after 9pm on Tuesday.
Amy said she was grateful to everyone who had worked so hard to free Sianey and amazed she had survived virtually unscathed.
“I just can’t believe she’s not done any serious injuries,” she said.
“We had actually already been told she was being put down.
“They had made the decision and everything; then Mr Mellor came back and said: ‘Hang on, can we dig her out from the side?’”
Amy, who went down into the large chamber to check on the horse, said she was very fortunate.
“I couldn’t believe how huge it was inside,” she said.
“I went down and I got half way across and I couldn’t see her because it was so dark.
“It’s lucky it was pitch black as that was natural sedation for the horse.
“We were worried about the noise from the drilling but it wasn’t too loud inside and it didn’t affect her at all.”
After a night’s rest, Amy said Sianey was doing well.
“She is in quite good condition,” she said.
“The vet is quite happy with her and he’s said there’s nothing serious.
“We’ve cleaned her up and she’s not feeling as stiff as she was on Tuesday night.”
The amazing rescue mission drew a large crowd of villagers keen to see the horse freed.
And worried animal lovers on social media also sent their best wishes as they followed the incident live on Twitter.
As firefighters finally broke through the wall they asked the dozens of people watching from the pavement above to be quiet and to not cheer when she appeared.
And then after initial reluctance to come out into the daylight, Sianey emerged from the hole and let out a small whinny of relief, before surveying the audience that had gathered on the road above.
Covered in white cement dust, she was then led to see the other horses in the field who welcomed her back from her 30 hour internment underground with a gentle nudge and a display of triumphant neighing.
With the horse safely away down the field the crowd raised a cheer for the firefighters who had rescued her.
Cleckheaton station commander Ronnie Goldwater said it was one of the toughest rescues they had done.
“We reckon we’ve moved about five tonnes of concrete,” he said.
“It was like a nuclear bunker, it was about a foot and a half thick. It was a massive operation and the lads were brilliant, as were the people who came down and brought us drinks.
“It’s a smashing outcome and we’re amazed she wasn’t hurt.”
Mr Goldwater confirmed that the fire service would not be charging anyone for the huge operation as it was classed as a humanitarian rescue.
Want to read, watch and hear more? You can download the FREE Examiner Apple App here , the FREE Examiner Android App here or you can view the paper as an e-edition on your Apple, Android or Kindle device by clicking here
To follow us on Twitter click here