THE owner of a pony that miraculously survived a 15ft plunge down an old mineshaft has thanked firefighters.
It took St Austell and Bodmin firefighters more than two hours to free Pumpkin, a 20-year-old Shetland pony, from the collapsed adit, in a field in Prideaux Road, St Blazey, on Boxing Day.
His owner, Gabrielle Alexander, returned home to discover fire engines parked in her garden.
She said: "I thought, 'Oh, my God; my house has burnt down'," but then she was told of Pumpkin's drama.
Her beloved pet had been discovered by a friend who was shooting rabbits in the field and rescue teams had then been called, arriving on the scene at 2.15pm.
Although Pumpkin fell 15ft down the huge hole he had no injuries.
"He must have been standing there and the earth moved from under him," said Miss Alexander.
"He must have gone straight down; it was probably just as well," she added, because if Pumpkin had fallen at another angle he might not have been as lucky.
Firefighters put a harness around the pony and winched him to safety.
"He was a little star. He was shaken and very cold and very wet.
"The fire service were absolutely fantastic and I would like to say a massive 'Thank you' to them."
Miss Alexander, who has owned Pumpkin, originally from Padstow, for a decade, said she had no idea that part of the field was on top of a mineshaft.
Now she is appealing to experts who might be able to shed light on why the adit – a mine entrance – collapsed, how it can be repaired and how much it will cost.
"I would welcome any help or advice," said Miss Alexander, who works for West Pharmaceutical but is to be made redundant in two months.
Until the hole is filled in properly the field remains off-limits to Pumpkin and the other horses, some of which belong to Miss Alexander's sister.
If you can help, call reporter Caroline Chick on 01726 76815 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org