Training Emphasizes Horse Handling Skills, Practical Equipment

Preparation for taking care of horses in emergencies and disasters starts with training emergency responders (firefighters, rescue squad members, veterinarians, police, humane, animal control and sheriff's officers, and search and rescue volunteers) to be able to properly and safely manipulate and "package" an injured animal for transport from an incident scene. In mid-March, back-to-back Technical Large Animal Equine Rescue classes were held at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) in Richmond, Ky., in a partnership with USRider Equestrian Motor Plan (, which is a nationwide trailering assistance program created for equestrians. From basic dangers of using horses' legs as handles to helicopter rescue techniques, the course covered a vast amount of information related to large animal rescue, disasters, and even bioterrorism.

Tomas Gimenez, Dr.Med.Vet, and his wife, Rebecca, PhD, of Clemson, S.C., were the primary instructors. The Gimenezes brought the equine participants for the hands-on laboratories and enlisted the help of assistant instructors from across the country.

Each course was customized to the participants, with first responders' courses targeting the behavior, handling, and rescue of the large animals. All students participated in a staged night search and rescue for an "injured" horse and rider.

A recurrent theme of the course was learning to use human equipment already available on a fire/rescue truck or EMS ambulance. They showed various equipment and techniques, but most maneuvers included simple webbing, rope systems, fire hose, cribbing (lumber), metal-cutting tools, and gear for air or water injection as would be used for a extracting a human victim.

USRider, through its Leg-Up Fund, provided the seed money for the Large Animal Rescue Endowment Fund at EKU. To contribute call 859/622-1583.

For more information see—Rebecca Gimenez, PhD, and Roberta Dwyer, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVPM

About the Author

Multiple Authors

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from Learn More

Free Newsletters

Sign up for the latest in:

From our partners