A horse that got stuck in the mud was airlifted to safety after a painstaking four-hour rescue operation.
The drama unfolded when the draft horse ran into trouble after getting stuck in thick mud at the Hansen Dam Aquatic Center in Lake View Terrace, California.
The 2,200lb male horse, named Duke, had been riding on a riverbed which had become muddy from rainfall when the animal became halfway submerged in water.
Duke was left lying on his side in shallow water with three of his legs trapped in the sticky stuff.
More than 40 firefighters and volunteers battled to keep his head afloat to prevent him from downing.
Using manpower, two-line rope system and a backboard, rescuers were able to free Duke and float him 20ft to shore.
The stricken mammal was transquilised during the process.
In a coordinated effort, a harness was then placed around the weakened horse, and a helicopter airlifted him to a nearby baseball field.
Once on land, Duke was able to get back on his feet where he was checked over and found to have only suffered minor injuries.
[Related story: Wild dolphin attacks swimmers in US]
Speaking after the ordeal, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott said: “It’s not only to save the life of that animal but also to prevent those who are going after it that are untrained from being injured.”