LIFEBOAT crews coaxed a runaway horse back onto land after it bolted from its owner and went for a swim.
The RNLI Portsmouth Lifeboat was called to East Winner sandbank, Hayling Island, yesterday evening.
Aaron Gent, from the RNLI, said a dog had startled a woman’s horse as she was riding it, with her coming off it and the horse running away.
Lifeboat Norma Ethel Vinall was diverted from an exercise near Southsea castle to help track the horse, which was darting in and out of the water evading its owner.
But then it suddenly bolted into the water, with the owner wading in after.
Aaron, who was watching on with binoculars from the RNLI station, was then called out to help the owner on board the D-Class lifeboat at around 8.30pm.
He said: ‘From a distance it looked like the horse was playing.
‘Then all of a sudden it bolted and went into the main channel 100m out from the actual beach itself.
‘We saw the owner was with another horse owner.
‘She ran after it and we thought hang on a minute, she’s gone in.
‘She was only waist deep but you can get into trouble.’
By the time the two lifeboats arrived the woman had returned to the shore.
Aaron added: ‘Obviously she was distraught and worried about the horse.’
The crews then both went out into the Langstone Harbour channel to rescue the horse.
‘We had to do a bit of sheep herding,’ added Aaron.
‘He definitely had some determination to get out.
‘We were trying to persuade the horse swimming out further was a bad idea.’
The horse was eventually coaxed back but galloped across the shore, while the D-Class boat tried to prevent it from heading towards nearby families.
It was finally captured by a member of the public 10 minutes later at the Ferryboat Inn car park.