A VET in Radcliffe was instrumental in rescuing a horse in desperate need.

Michael Morrison's expertise were called upon when 20-year-old Miss Molly was found in her stable, unable to stand.

The veterinary surgeon responded to the emergency call from owner Fran Scholes.

Mr Morrison, aged 30, said: "Molly had exhausted herself trying to stand, and her legs were sore.

"I've worked with Molly for more than five years but this is the most serious case I have had to deal with.

"She has suffered badly from arthritis for a few years. We think she had laid down to take the weight off her legs.

"But if horses lie down in one position for more than four hours, their muscles become very very sore, which can cause a lot of damage.

"They become increasingly weaker.

"We think she had been down for the entire night."

Ms Scholes, from Springhead, had called Radcliffe-based Simon Constable's Veterinary Practice, where she is a client, after discovering Molly on the floor on Christmas Eve morning.

Molly was the much longed-for 60th birthday gift of Ms Scholes' mum, Janet, who was tragically only able to spend a few months with her beloved horse after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

And so 30-year-old Ms Scholes had vowed to do everything to try and save Molly.

She along with Mr Morrison and another horse owner did not think they could shift the 600kg-plus horse.

But Mr Morrison helped in every way possible, carrying out vital checks, including listening to her heart and lungs. He also checked her gut, or gastrointestinal tract, gums, ensured there were no broken limbs, and took her temperature, but could find no major faults.

Mr Morrison warned Fran to prepare for the worst. Because of Molly’s age and condition the longer she remained on the floor the more critical the situation became.

Further efforts involved giving Molly a pain-killing injection, steroid injection, and some amphetamine, to boost her energy levels.

With still no sign of movement, Mr Morrison suggested the group call upon the expertise of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service as a last resort.

Within five minutes the first crew arrived and shortly after there were around 20 firefighters at Fenton’s Farm, in Shaw, along with the technical rescue unit and enhanced rescue unit from Ashton and the water incident unit from Heywood.

They implemented a plan to remove Molly from her stable, working together to attach ropes and slide her onto a board.

Within minutes she was outside in the yard and in the tense moments that followed they prepared a last ditch attempt to raise her, fearing she may be injured.

But miracle Molly suddenly managed to get to her hooves herself and headed straight off to the nearby field, completely unscathed by the drama.

Station manager Val Hussain said: "Our firefighters did a fantastic job rescuing Molly. Our crews from Rochdale, Heywood and Ashton used their range of skills to excellent effect to get her back on her feet.

"Early on the vet suggested if we could get her back upright she should be ok, so it is very pleasing to hear that she is recovering well."

Ms Scholes said the firefighters will never know just how much their life-saving actions mean to her and her family.

"Mike was preparing me for the worst, saying goodbye to my girl. Then he suggested I call the fire brigade to help.

"They were amazing," said Fran, who lost her mum nine years ago.

"They made a plan and all worked together. They helped to keep both me and Molly calm.

"They are true heroes and I will be eternally grateful."

Mr Morrison added: "It was a Christmas miracle.

"One of the main things I took home from the incident was how amazing the fire crews were.

"We are so very lucky to have this specialist team in Heywood.

"There was a whole team on the job and they were incredibly professional."