Search

‘Not even an adult would have the guts’ - Boy, 13, risks life to save drowning horse

PUBLISHED: 06:00 26 August 2020 | UPDATED: 08:33 26 August 2020

Cameron Martin, who goes to Benjamin Britten High School, here pictured with his own pony, Charlie. Photo: Tanya Docwra Smith

Cameron Martin, who goes to Benjamin Britten High School, here pictured with his own pony, Charlie. Photo: Tanya Docwra Smith

Archant

A 13-year-old boy who risked his life to save a drowning horse has been hailed a hero for “doing what even an adult wouldn’t have the guts to do”.

Domino, the horse, being dragged from the dyke after Cameron spent an hour keeping his head above the surface. Photo: Tanya Docwra SmithDomino, the horse, being dragged from the dyke after Cameron spent an hour keeping his head above the surface. Photo: Tanya Docwra Smith

Cameron Martin, from Oulton Broad, was being looked after by family friends at the Midspirit Discount Equestrian farm in Burgh Castle on August 13 when he disappeared for more than an hour.

When he was eventually found, he was desperately fighting to prevent a horse from drowning in a nearby dyke.

The teenager had taken a walk to visit a pony kept on the farm and was alarmed to discover the nag seemingly trying to force its head under the water.

Leaping into action he clambered into the dyke and used all his might to hold the horse’s head aloft - while simultaneously trying to raise the alarm.

Domino, the horse, being dragged from the dyke after Cameron spent an hour keeping his head above the surface. Photo: Tanya Docwra SmithDomino, the horse, being dragged from the dyke after Cameron spent an hour keeping his head above the surface. Photo: Tanya Docwra Smith

Cameron, who last year had his jaw broken by a masked attacker, said he sometimes “runs off and gets in trouble”.

He said: “I have ran away before but on this occasion I was desperate for someone to come find me.

“I was walking up to my field to see my pony when I noticed one of the owner’s horses wasn’t where it normally is.

“I panicked, and then my first thought was to check the dyke. I saw it in the water trying to force itself under. I just did what I had to do.

Domino, the horse, being dragged from the dyke after Cameron spent an hour keeping his head above the surface. Photo: Tanya Docwra SmithDomino, the horse, being dragged from the dyke after Cameron spent an hour keeping his head above the surface. Photo: Tanya Docwra Smith

“I was so exhausted afterwards though that I slept for 24 hours, woke up for five and then went back to sleep for 22 more.”

His mum, Kelly Ann Gook, is a nurse at the James Paget Hospital, so her friends Jonathan and Tanya Docwra-Smith look after Cameron at their farm while she works.

She said: “I’m like an aunty to Cameron - and he’s got additional educational needs so can be difficult to handle.

“He often goes off on his own for half an hour or so and we’re used to that, but on this day he was gone for well over an hour and we started to panic.

Tanya Docwra Smith with Domino. Photo: Tanya Docwra SmithTanya Docwra Smith with Domino. Photo: Tanya Docwra Smith

“We had to get his mum out of bed after a night shift to help look for him, the poor soul.”

Ms Docwra-Smith said that a “man hunt” for Cameron led them to the dyke at the edge of the farm, 10 acres from the main site, where he was in the water and trying with all his might to hold the horse’s head above the surface.

She said: “We’d seen Cameron gesticulating on the side of the dyke from afar but honestly had no idea what he was doing. He kept jumping back in the water and out again. It was all very scary.

“It turned out he was literally keeping Domino’s head out of the water to stop him from drowning.

Domino, the horse that was dragged from the dyke, alive, well and clean following a hot bath. Photo: Tanya Docwra SmithDomino, the horse that was dragged from the dyke, alive, well and clean following a hot bath. Photo: Tanya Docwra Smith

“But Cameron knows how to handle horses so well he’d had the sense to get onto the side of the dyke every so often to jump around and wave his hands in an effort to get our attention. He knew leaving it for a second would have led to its death.

“The scene was horrible: the horse had weeds trapped under its nose and it was clearly in pain.”

She added: “Cameron was freezing and distraught. But he was adamant that we saved the horse’s life.”

Ms Docwra-Smith said that Cameron was pulled from the water by his mother while she herself jumped in to save the horse, adding that the episode must have looked “comical” to passers-by.

She attached a rope from her husband’s crane around the horse’s neck, which was then used to pull it out.

She said: “Domino has a long-term leg injury and is due to be put down in January next year.

“We think he was trying to force his head under the water because he couldn’t go on anymore.”

Ms Docwra-Smith said that the horse’s owner, Paul Williams, was “immensely grateful” to Cameron and called him a “little hero”.

“Not even an adult would have the guts to do what he did”, she said.

“He and the horse have bonded after this. When he stands at one side of the dyke and Cameron at the other, Domino gives him a little whinny.”


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Most Read

Latest from the Eastern Daily Press