RIDERS are being urged to stick to designated paths after a horse became stuck in a bog in Hampshire.

The animal sank into the mud after straying from a bridle path near Ibsley and losing its footing on uneven ground.

Firefighters from Ringwood, Brockenhurst and Fordingbridge stations and the brigade’s animal rescue unit spent four hours trying to free it.

The animal was eventually helped to its feet after being moved to firmer ground and returned to its stables.

Animal rescue specialist Jim Green said it was a “laborious job” and added: “Riders may feel that due to the recent good weather that going across forests and fields will be safe.

“But given the rainfall experienced earlier this year, many areas are still heavily waterlogged and may be hazardous to horses and their owners."