Annual Investment in Large Animal Emergency Rescue Training

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For the past three years, Hamilton Mounted Police have sent their officers to receive hands on training at Large Animal Emergency Rescue Training workshops provided by Equine Guelph.  They fully appreciate the value of practicing successful outcomes for situations they may be called out to respond to.  The refresher course on April 19, 2023 at HollyOaks Farm in Lynden, ON proved to be another beneficial day reviewing emergency scenarios such as incidents involving horse trailers.  This training was also attended by staff of several local veterinary clinics including McKee Pownall, Troy Equine Services, Paris Vet Clinic and Halton Equine.

Equine Guelph Large Animal Emergency Rescue refresher workshop for Hamilton Mounted Police
Photo by Randy Carter

The team worked through each rescue scenario, getting reacquainted with all the different lifts and drags that can be deployed safely in an emergency.

“The Proper use of specialized equipment and positioning of webbing around the body of the animal is so important to having a positive outcome of lifting or dragging a large animal to safety,” says lead instructor Victor MacPherson, EBSP Rescue.

Large Animal Rescue technique sideways drag. Photo by Randy Carter
Large animal rescue technique – sideways drag. Photo by Randy Carter

As emergency situations vary greatly, many ways to use equipment to extricate large animals were discussed and practiced with the help of a very experienced set of instructors and the trusty life-size horse mannequin, ‘Rusti’.  Use of the incident command system and personal protection were also reviewed.

Participants had some very positive feedback:

“This is an excellent course that all horse/farm owners should be aware of or take. As we progress in our knowledge, in the care of animals, it is almost certain they will live longer healthier lives.”
Sgt. Denise Leonard, Hamilton Mounted Police

“This was an awesome course that all horse owners and professionals should consider taking. Vic and Susan provided great content and were able to create real-life scenarios for participants to practice with. I also liked how the course was relevant across professions (I.e vets, police, fire, horse trainers, barn owners, etc.) Can’t recommend enough!”  
Paige Fleetwood, Carters Training Centre

“As an animal welfare inspector I found the content of this program extremely beneficial to me. The method of instruction, along with the safety aspects taught, will allow me to act in a safe and proficient manner should I experience a trapped animal in my professional career or as a private horse owner. I would support fully this program for anyone that spends time around horses or other farm animals. Well done Equine Guelph!! Can’t wait to attend the next workshop!”  
Nigel Blakeborough

Another earlier April course offering introduced emergency preparedness to new participants at the University of Guelph through a partnership with the Bachelor of Bio-Resource Management program, Department of Animal Biosciences.  On April 15, 2023, twenty of the equine program undergrads and local horse owners learned about scene safety, the challenges of fire rescue and other large animal rescue skills.  The crew also learned how to make an emergency halter out of rope, what to do to maintain control over a horse’s head and how to steer clear of kick zones while devising rescue plans.

Here is what students new to Large Animal Emergency Rescue Training had to say:

“The Large Animal Rescue Awareness Level Training workshop is a valuable experience for those who intend to work with horses or own horses. The hands-on learning with professionals and the ‘horsequinn’, Rusty, allowed our team to understand the value of hierarchy and working efficiently in an emergency situation,” said Alayna Hubick, Horse Owner at Randalayne Stables. “The incredible teachers were a wealth of information and provided detailed answers. I appreciated my time learning from the firefighters about barn safety and being able to handle a mock fire extinguisher. The firefighters provided real-life examples of how to be efficient during an emergency situation. I would recommend this course to veterinarians, studying veterinarians, horse owners, firefighters, and those who intend to work with large animals.

“This course was very hands on and informative. Using real world examples to apply the skills learned,” explained student Emily Pauseli.  “An animal in distress acts very different than when calm and this course helps erase some of the confusion and panic allowing for quicker and more effective/safe rescues.”

“The Large Animal Rescue Awareness Level Training workshop was an extremely valuable course to take,” said Madeline Boast, Equine Nutritionist at Balanced Bay Equine Nutrition Consulting.   “Learning key rescue skills through this hands-on training has given me ease with knowing that I have a higher level of skill if an emergency were to happen with my horse. The most valuable part of the course was the experience level of the various instructors. They brought unique perspectives to the course content. Absolutely loved it and would recommend it to any horse owner or anyone who works with horses!”

All large animal incidents regardless of cause or scope, present a risk of injury to responders.  The way to improve the odds of a favourable and safe outcome for both animals and responders is through proper training of best practices and the use of rescue equipment.  Equine Guelph’s program was implemented in 2014 and has continued to grow to expand its offerings to a varied group. If you are interested in helping to build this program or would like to discuss offering this program in your area or to your members, please contact Equine Guelph. It can be offered on a cost-recovery basis, or through sponsorship, to communities/individuals who would like to expand the reach of this training program. 

Equine Guelph thanks the supporters, facilitators and participants of these important large animal emergency rescue workshops.  A special thank you to Linda Rawlinson for not only hosting the workshop at HollyOaks Farm but also for generously providing a delicious lunch for the day.

For more information or to bring a course to your location visit and contact the course facilitator Dr. Susan Raymond at [email protected] .