Animal instinct may have saved the life of a North Canterbury horse enthusiast.
James Glen was working with five-year-old Arpee in the dressage arena at his South Eyre Road property when the 800kg horse was startled.
Arpee lost his balance and fell out of the arena, leaving Glen trapped under his beloved horse.
''I knew that if he rolled on me, I had a percentage chance of surviving.''
He also realised the saddle posed a threat to him if the horse tried to roll over to stand up. After failing to get the saddle off, Glen knew all he could do was try to keep Arpee ''still and calm''.
For more than 45 minutes, the horse lay still for his trapped owner, while they waited for help.
''All I was thinking was how am I going to get out of this situation?''
Fortunately, Glen had his cell phone and was able to phone for help - after struggling for 10 minutes to search his contacts due to the glare of the sun.
Neighbour Nicola Pellett arrived and tried to lift Arpee, but the huge horse was too heavy. Glen suggested they use a piece of 4x2 to lever the animal's neck. Arpee was then able to sit himself up, and released enough pressure for Nicola to drag Glen out to safety.
The Cust Fire Brigade, North Canterbury paramedics and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter arrived soon after. Miraculously, Glen only fractured his right thumb and suffered muscular damage to his left leg and left bicep.
The passionate horse rider was thankful it was Arpee he was on when he fell and not another horse.
''If it had been a different horse, it would have probably been a different outcome. I honestly believe I'd be dead.''
Rescuers too were amazed at the horse's instinctive nature.
''Everyone that was here just couldn't believe he could lie there like that,'' Glen said.
While Glen would not be riding for at least six weeks due to his injuries, he said the bond between him and Arpee had grown stronger.
''I always loved him because he has a lovely temperament, and I love him even more now.''
- The Press