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Large Animal Rescue Workshop

In April I attended a workshop in Wodonga that focused on Large Animal Rescue. This was run by one of the author’s of Emergency Equine Rescue, MaryAnne Leighton.

“Large Animal Rescue is defined as the removal of a large animal from a place of danger to a place of safety by the most humane method, with overriding regard for the safety and welfare of responders as well as members of the public.”

It was great to see that of the people attending, there were members of SES groups, CFA, Equine and Veterinary Science students, an equine dentist and other horse owners. Horses are large flight animals that can do a lot of damage when in pain and an unfamiliar situation – something they seem to manage a lot as domestic animals today!

The workshop focused on situations that could arise with horses – but pointed out that every incident is different and shouldn’t be approached in the same manner expecting the same result. MaryAnne provided us with many example situations of events that have occurred in Australia, the United Kingdom, Netherlands and in the United States.

It was great to see how these situations were addressed and find out about resolutions that were found, as well as mistakes that were incurred. After lunch we were given the opportunity to practice working as a team on a life size model horse loaned by Saddleworld.

Following this, we were split into four groups and provided with a photo showing a horse in a unique and unusual situation:

  • Upside down caught with its head between two tree trunks, in a snowy paddock
  • Lying in a ditch unable to get out
  • Sunk in a waterlogged paddock
  • Half hanging out of a feed window in a stable, with the horse caught at it’s hips

MaryAnne gave us time to discuss as a group the exact steps we would take to rectify the situation, with safety of handlers and the horse at the forefront of our decisions. Looking at each of these situations prior to this workshop, I would have had no idea who to contact or how the horse would be extracted. At the end of the day, I felt confident that the horse could be safely retrieved and that I would know who to contact to ensure this was carried out by a trained professional.

Note – I didn’t say that I felt confident I could do it by myself or with a team of people under my instruction! One key aspect that was drilled into us I strongly agree with: don’t attempt to fix the situation yourself; call the professionals (usually CFA or SES in Australia) to deal with the large animal rescue.

“Horses in distress are considered an immediate danger to life or health and a rescue incident is no place for untrained personnel and distressed owners or onlookers.”

The day was a great eye opener and contained some really valuable information. If you have an interest in this area, and for information on Large Animal Rescue in Australia and the availability of equipment designed for rescuing large animals, please contact:

MaryAnne Leighton –

“To make a perfect horseman, three things are requisite. First, to know how and when to help your horse. Secondly, how and when to correct him. And thirdly, how and when to praise him and to make much of him.” – Thomas Blundeville

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