She’s no cow-ard: horserider births calf and saves mother

Imogen Butterworth at Anchor Valley near Shoreham where she found the cow. Picture: Derek Martin
Imogen Butterworth at Anchor Valley near Shoreham where she found the cow. Picture: Derek Martin
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When Imogen Butterworth went horseriding on Sunday, little did she know she’d be armpit-deep in birthing fluid.

But after seeing a distressed cow that was in labour, she knew she had to help – despite never birthing a calf before.

I thought ‘It’s dead so I can’t kill it – the only thing I can potentially do is bring it back to life’ so I went for it

Imogen Butterworth

Imogen, 25, from De Braose Way, Steyning, discovered the cow stuck under a hedge in Truleigh Hill. She said: “Because she was at the wrong angle on the hill she couldn’t roll back.

“I realised she was having issues with the birth and something had to be done.

“I could see a nose and a front leg sticking out so I grabbed the leg and behind his head and realised he was stuck. So I put my hand inside and his other leg was twisted.”

Imogen managed to pull the other leg out, but the calf was stillborn.

Not deterred, she tried to resuscitate it.

“I held it upside down by its back legs and swung it around to make the fluid come out of its lungs.

“Then I put some grass up its nose to get him to cough but he was completely lifeless.”

Imogen, who is a member of a local young farmers’ group, drew on her friends’ advice to help her.

“They’re always chatting about calving stories and we’ve always had rabbits and guinea pigs. I also watch Countryfile a fair bit.

“I thought ‘It’s dead so I can’t kill it – the only thing I can potentially do is bring it back to life’ so I went for it.”

After birthing the calf, Imogen managed to pull the cow onto its stomach using the stirrup leathers from her horse and with help from a passing runner.

She then rode to a neighbour of the cow’s owner, farmer Frank Grantham, who arrived shortly afterwards.

He said: “I was most impressed. She rolled her sleeves and got on with it.”

By the time she got home, Imogen said she was ‘covered in blood, dung and birthing fluid’ up to her armpit.

“I went to have my dinner and my mum said I best have a shower first. I did smell.”