DENVER (CBS4) – A horse named Cupcake is safe and sound after a terrifying afternoon stuck in the mud at Cherry Creek State Park.

Rescue crews arrived Thursday afternoon to what looked like a hopeless scene. The 13-year-old horse was laying on her side in thick mud and under a foot and a half of water.

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“It was a life or death situation. That horse had to stand up or get a helicopter,” said veterinarian Dale Rice.

Crews say this wouldn’t have happened if the horse’s owners hadn’t led them off the trail and into a marsh. Cupcake got exhausted and dehydrated in the heat and just laid down, getting stuck.

Doug Hammack rushed to the scene from a nearby ranch. He sat in the mud to keep Cupcake’s snout above water for hours.

“She probably weighs about 1000 lbs, so keeping her head up and her stomach right was a chore. But you do what you go to do,” Hammack said.

Copter4 flew over the stuck horse at Cherry Creek State Park on Thursday (credit: CBS)

Copter4 flew over the stuck horse at Cherry Creek State Park on Thursday (credit: CBS)

(credit: South Metro Fire)

(credit: South Metro Fire)

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Firefighters tried to keep Cupcake calm while securing ropes. A veterinarian gave her fluids and steroids, then after four hours of agony, the horse found the strength and got back on her feet with a push.

“You don’t have the luxury of getting overly emotional when you’re trying to rescue something,” Rice said.

Cupcake walked out of her grave a little weak and exhausted, but virtually unharmed. She wouldn’t have been saved had it not been for the quick action of South Metro firefighters who came to her rescue, and the horse handlers nearly.

“I don’t know if I’m a hero, I wouldn’t say that. I’m just a guy that could help and did help,” said Hammack.

The horse is expected to make a full recovery.

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)