Several facilities throughout the United States provide Large Animal and Horse Rescue training to firefighters, police, animal control officers, veterinarians, emergency medical technicians, and anyone interested in knowing more.
John and Deb Fox are firefighters and LAR instructors based in Felton, California. The couple gathers information from many sources to provide their students with new and creative rescue techniques. "Not only does our department schedule regular large animal rescue drills, we attend talks and classes given by experts in related fields," Deb says. "When we teach classes, our students gain information from our constant learning."
If you attend a rescue-training session with the Foxes, you'll work with life-size, weighted horse manikins that allow students to learn in real-life situations without stressing a live horse.
The Foxes recommend attending a training session with your entire rescue team — or as many people as possible — as you'll want to know how to work together in an emergency situation. Once your team is trained, attend future sessions to keep your rescue skills sharp and up-to-date.
Dr. Tomas and Rebecca Gimenez travel nationwide to teach their Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue training classes. Their courses, like others listed here, help emergency personnel respond quickly and safely when a horse or other large animal is injured or stuck. The couple uses well-trained horses to mimic tragic scenarios.
"We welcome any opportunity to share education with trail riders and horse owners in general" Rebecca explains. "Our horses are trained to demonstrate mud rescues and lifts without sedation so our students work in real-life scenarios."
The Gimenezes remind students that horses are heavy, fast-moving, confused, and terrified during accidents. In addition to teaching hands-on rescue techniques, they teach a bit of horse psychology — how to approach frightened animals so horse and handlers remain safe.
To find a large animal-rescue course, ask your local extension agent for information on training in your area, or contact the organizations listed here.
Heidi Melocco is a lifelong horsewoman, equine journalist, and photographer based in Mead, Colorado.