Roads through Sandbach and Holmes Chapel were gridlocked for hours on Sunday after a crash closed the M6.
Traffic could be seen snaking along the A50 and A534 for hours after the M6 ground to a halt near the Holmes Chapel turn off when a horsebox and a lorry collided.
Diverted drivers used Sandbach and Holmes Chapel to avoid the scene, which created miles of tailbacks.
Drivers stuck on the M6 were requested to stay in their cars on both carriageways between junctions 18 and 19 while emergency services cut a hole in the side of the horsebox to free a trapped horse.
No-one was hurt in the incident. However, the rescue operation caused massive delays for travellers going north and south.
Two fire engines – one from Lymm and one from Middlewich – raced to the scene at 10.44am, along with the rope rescue unit from Bollington.
Two hours later, a vet attended to sedate the horse before it was extracted from the vehicle and taken to a nearby equine hospital. It is believed the animal later died.
The motorway’s matrix signs warned drivers to “Stay in their vehicles” as reports were received that people had left their cars to stretch their legs. And on some posts on social media, people could be seen queueing for ice cream from a van that was also stuck in the queues. However, this was said to have hampered the emergency service vehicles accessing the scene of the crash.
A Cheshire Police helicopter hovered at the scene throughout the operation, supervising traffic and organising a rolling roadblock from above.
After five hours, when all the lanes re-opened, and drivers finally set off again, they gave triumphant toots of their horns to pedestrians watching from above on motorway bridges.