Large Animal Rescue – Horses

Did you know that two of the most common horse rescues are; horses trapped in the mud and incidents involving horse floats or horse trailers.
Knowing what to do in an emergency situation with your horse could be the difference between life and death, its really that important!

So, would you know what to do if your horse needed rescuing?

Knowing this could save a horses life!

What Is Large Animal Rescue?

Large Animal Rescue is the removal of a large animal from a place of danger to a place of safety by the most humane method. It’s important to keep in mind that safety of the personnel rescuing the large animal is preserved at all times.

Large Animal Rescue (LAR) training is law in the United States, and also known as Technical Large Animal Rescue (TLAR).

It’s An Emergency!

Unfortunately things can go wrong, as Michael and Nathalie from the Pollard Eventing team went through. The Pollard Eventing Team tragically lost three incredible eventing horses in a trailer accident in May 2012; VDL Ulando H, Icarus (Fly) and Jude’s Law (Jude).

Listen to Katie Thornton as she interviews Michael and Nathalie Pollard and they talk about the horses and the accident.

What Would You Do In An Emergency Situation?

  • Would you know what to do if your horse was involved in a trailering or float accident?
  • Would you know what to do if your horse became trapped in mud?
  • Would you know what to do if your horse was caught in a deep hole, swimming pool or another unfavorable place?
  • Would you know who to you call?
  • Would you know how to keep calm in this situation?
  • Would you know how to keep yourself, your horse and other people from being injured during the rescue?

If you answered No to any of these questions then you need to educate yourself, either by attending a large animal rescue course in your local area, or read the Equine emergency rescue book - a guide to large animal rescue by MaryAnne Leighton & Michelle Staples.

:) Sales from the Equine Emergency Rescue Book go to Horse SA, and funds are used to purchase more specialised horse rescue equipment :)

Attending workshops in your local area

I recently attended a Large Animal Emergency Response workshop at the SES in Strathalbyn South Australia, the workshop was organised by Julie Fiedler from Horse SA.

At the workshop I learned who to call first, and in this case it was dial 000, then call my local vet. Its a good idea to have these numbers located in your mobile phone or written down in your vehicle for easy access.

Another learning outcome was for owners to keep their riding helmet on, I know this seems a bit odd. However, when emergency crews turn up the first thing the Country Fire Service (CFS) or State Emergency Services (SES) personnel do is to put their helmets on, and the first thing a horse owner does it take theirs off. In a large animal emergency situation human safety is very important, so keep your helmet on!

Its good to get to know who is your closest large animal rescue response team. Some SES crews have the right equipment on hand to rescue large animals. where is your closest rescue response team?

There was so much valuable information covered on the evening. I highly recommend attending a training session to educate yourself and have a better understanding of what you need to do, and what you need to have in order to have the best possible outcome for a horse in need of rescuing.

One extra note, if you have some spare change take it along on the evening and make a donation towards Horse SA purchasing more Large Animal Rescue equipment, this equipment is specialised and donations are required for states to purchase their own equipment. I believe its a good investment for everyone :)

What type of equipment do SES crews need to rescue horses?

Large Animal Rescue - horses
Equine Emergency Rescue by MaryAnne Leighton & Michelle Staples

1. Slings

2. Straps

3. Glides

There are other types of equipment required to rescue horses as well. The right equipment causes less injury and stress to the horse.

Specialised horse rescue crews know how to tie certain knots, use slings, straps and stretches and most importantly know how to position a horse to be rescued safely.

This specialised knowledge can save a horses life, and there have been plenty of horse rescues where the rescuers have cause more harm than good because they were not trained and did not have the correct equipment to perform a safe rescue.

I cant stress enough how important it is to know the process of rescuing a large animal, and at any time being prepared to put your emergency plan into action.

Listen to instructions given by the SES Rescue team leader

These people are trained to help rescue your animal, they have a specific plan they need to follow to;

1. Assess the scene

2. Make the scene safe

3. Plan the rescue

4. Brief the crew

5. Commence the rescue

6. Hand the horse back to the owner

At times the owner may become emotional and the SES teams are trained to help the owner cope the best they can in a traumatic situation. Its important to listen and follow the SES team leaders instructions, as they can see potential dangers to human life, and will require co operation. It can be a very challenging situation for everyone involved, so the more education a horse owner can have the better prepared we can all be and work together towards a good outcome. Hopefully we never need to be in this situation, being prepared is a wise decision.

Where Can I Learn About Large Animal Rescue?

For people wanting to know about training in other states and countries go to Large Animal Rescue (LAR) or Technical Large Animal Rescue (TLAR), these have links to training in Australia and other countries.

Horse SA has put together an Emergency Horse Owners Kit to provide good horse care if needed in an emergency situation, it is a great resource.

You will learn what you need to have on hand in an emergency. I’ll give you a hint about two useful items, and that’s extra halters, and the all important string or bailing twine.

There are things we need to know and have on hand during an emergency.

As Michael and Nathalie from Pollard Eventing discuss in their interview, the walls of a horse trailer become the floor and they could not get to the horse sedatives in their crashed vehicle.

May we never need to put into action what we learn through attending a training course or reading the book. However its worth knowing as this information could save a horses life!

About Sue-Ellen Cordon

Sue -Ellen Cordon is an avid horse enthusiast who loves to share horse knowledge, so people can enjoy their horses more. The creator of Complete Horse Care and author of 12 Ways to save yourself a bucket load of cash, money saving free report with simple practical tips!

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