‘I dread to think what was floating past’ says Northampton retiree who saved horse from burst river bank

Dog walker Richard Lane, pictured with the horse he rescued fom the banks of the River Nene a fortnight ago.
Dog walker Richard Lane, pictured with the horse he rescued fom the banks of the River Nene a fortnight ago.

The mystery dog walker who waded into raging flood water to save a stranded horse armed with a bag of carrots in Northampton has been revealed following a Chronicle & Echo appeal.

Several people contacted the paper last week to commend the bravery of a man who pulled a stranded pony from water at Weston Mill, after the river Nene burst its banks on Wednesday, March 9.

The cycle path which runs alongside the River Nene - as it usually looks without the flooding.

The cycle path which runs alongside the River Nene - as it usually looks without the flooding.

Eyewitnesses said the man was up to his neck in the freezing brown water as he struggled to free the horse from its tether at around 1pm that day.

The Chron launched an appeal to find the mystery hero - and after a great response it has been revealed as former Ford factory worker Richard Lane.

The 60-year-old from Billing Road regularly walks his border collie Sam along the Nene and takes carrots to feed the horses kept on the flood planes there.

But on the afternoon of March 9 he saw one of the black and white mares he feeds close to drowning.

So the retired dad-of-one, wearing just jeans and a waterproof jacket, waded in to save her.

“The water came right up to my neck, I can’t tell you how cold it was.

“I did think for someone my age, I shouldn’t be doing this.

“When I turned round there were five blokes watching me, there was quite an audience.”

Another passer-by had called the fire service to tell them about the stranded horse earlier that morning. But as the service was overstretched with severe flooding across the county, Mr Lane said he had to act fast.

“The water was coming up past her head, so I thought I’ve got to do something here,” he said.

“She had a big chain on that was weighing her head down. When I got in there I kept trying to lift her head up but the chains were too heavy.

“I tried to pull the stump out of the ground but it wasn’t coming lose. All the time I kept looking round and the river was flowing quite heavily - I dread to think what was floating past.”

Mr Lane, who was with his friend Colin, eventually pulled a harness over the stranded horse’s head to free her.

He then had to wade back to dry land to fetch his bag of carrots in order to coax the mare to safety.

She duly followed him, having been stuck for more than three hours.

A crew from Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue arrived shortly after he had rescued the horse.

Despite the freezing cold, Mr Lane said was just doing what anyone in his situation would have done.

But he joked: “I still don’t think she recognises me though.”