Inspector Jeffrey Gunter and his equine partner, Wild Boy, were at the centre of the drama that unfolded in front of Pat Sunkel and her husband on Sunday.
“We were just sitting there watching people on the beach when two horses and riders came past us. As they passed us I looked up and watched as another two horses came galloping towards us, passing right by the excavation work that is being carried out on the beach,” said Pat, who is a keen animal lover.
“I was still watching the two horses coming towards us when one horse and rider just disappeared into the sand,” she said, reliving the unbelievable scene.
While she dashed to the spot where horse and rider were stuck in what appeared to be quicksand, Inspector Gunter was equally shocked and surprised at finding himself hip deep, and Wild Boy up to his neck in the wet, clinging sand. According to reports, the pair were in a section of the beach that had been cornered off because of the sand works. eThekwini Municipality is pumping sand from the harbour into the area in an effort to stop the sand erosion.
It was the quick-thinking on the part of Gunter, which saw him leopard-crawl to firmer ground and his strong bond with the horse who miraculously remained calm throughout the ordeal, that ensured the two escaped without serious injury.
“They brought in a municipal digger which was working close by to help dig away the sand around the horse,” said Pat. Once the pressure of the sand lifted, the horse lay on its side and rescuers helped dig away the sand around his legs. Once he was freed, Wild Boy took a few minutes before standing up on his own. A vet, who inspected him on Monday said he was a bit stiff, but otherwise unscathed.