Man kicked helping drowning pony in Hampshire
A man who tried to rescue a drowning pony from a Hampshire lake described being kicked in the head by the animal.
Luke Young from Farnborough took off his clothes and jumped into Hawley Lake on Saturday with the pony, which was harnessed to a trap.
Mr Young said: "I didn't really assess the situation properly. I went behind it to try and give it a shove and it booted me in the head."
Hampshire police said the pony's death may have been a "tragic accident".
It was initially thought the animal had been pushed into the lake deliberately.
Mr Young, 21, said: "One of the fellas tried going in to get it but it was already too far out so he sort of gave up and went back out.
"I just threw the phone to my girlfriend and I ran around, took my trousers and top off and dived in. I just wanted to try and rescue the animal.
"I dived in and tried grabbing the horse by the bit in its mouth and at that point didn't realise the chariot had gone down with it."
After being kicked in the head, Mr Young said he was knocked under the water.
"I knew I was in danger. As I moved away it booted me again in the ribs and I managed to swim up," he said.
Mr Young was taken to hospital to Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey for treatment for a blow to the head and bruising.
The RSPCA wants to trace the pony's owner to hear their version of events.
Spokeswoman Sophie Wilkinson said: "What we know from the witnesses is that a couple of horses attached to the traps were either being exercised near the water or taken into the water.
"One of the horses tried to get out and the people with the horses and traps wouldn't allow it to get out of the water so it tried to swim across to the other side of the lake and because it was still attached to the trap it was dragged down by the trap and unfortunately drowned.
"Most witness reports suggest that the horse was pushed into the water and wasn't allowed to get out of the water.
"We've also heard from at least one of the witnesses who say the horses were being exercised in the water and one got into difficulty and the people were trying to rescue it.
"It's very difficult to know at the moment, so what we want to do is find out from the people who were with the ponies what actually happened. We will need to hear their version of events.
"Either way, something very strange and extremely shocking has gone on that has allowed this pony to suffer and drown.
"We know that the people with the ponies went off with the other pony and trap in the direction of Yateley so we are just trying to hear from anybody who knows anything about it at all."
Ministry of Defence divers and Hampshire fire service recovered the carcass. The animal had been microchipped, but had recently been sold at market and the chip had not been updated.