Emergency preparedness is becoming a top priority in the agenda of many horse owners. Rescue and emergency response organizations are responding to the need of educating those working with horses so that individuals will be ready to deal with the physical and mechanical problems, and emotional and psychological reactions that might occur during a trailer accident. A seminar entitled, "Horse Trailer Emergency Rescue" was held at Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, Md., on June 10. The seminar was funded by Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute (MFRI) of the University of Maryland.

H. Marie Suthers-McCabe, DVM, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist in Human-Animal Interaction at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, gave a presentation on the emotional and psychological reactions to a trailering accident. She gave meaningful tips to rescue personnel on the bond between the horse and owner, and how consequences of the disrupted bond in an accident can create a compounded dangerous situation for rescue workers.

"I talked about the horse-human relationship -- about how some people become closely bonded with their horse, and the ways rescuers can see the degree of the attachment and tell whether or not the owner is able to make sound decisions," she said.

Suthers-McCabe also covered the topics of critical incident stress debriefing, for both horse owners and rescue teams, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Emergency euthanasia of the horse and its psychological impact to the owner also were discussed.

Stephen P. Dey, VMD, then gave a presentation entitled "Equine Trailer Rescue." Dey is a respected member of the horse community of New Jersey and past president of the New Jersey Equine Practitioners Association. He covered the specialized knowledge, tools, and skills that are required to rescue horses in the event of a trailering accident.

"Dr. Deyâs presentation was very hands-on," said Suthers-McCabe. She explained that attendees were able to practice cutting an imaginary horse out of a horse trailer that was on its side, among other mechanical feats with donated trailers.

According to the MFRI, the number of people skilled in the safe rescue of horses from damaged trailers is small. Deyâs presentation was a step-by-step guide to teach individuals how to remove horses from overturned or damaged trailers.

The course was open to all emergency services personnel, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, horse trailer companies, and horse owners at no charge. An estimated 300 people attended the seminar.

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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