Top 4 Mistakes Responders Make During Equine Emergencies


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When emergency responders arrive at the scene of an urgent situation involving a horse, surely everything will go smoothly, right? Not necessarily. While many emergency situations are resolved without incident, emergency responders might not always understand how to best deal with horses. Here are the top four mistakes they can make when working with equids.

1. Chasing a loose horse to “capture” it
Shocking stories abound of police officers attempting to apprehend a loose horse by chasing it with a car or on foot. A short search on YouTube yields a trove of videos and pictures of these types of responses. Warning: Many of these are difficult to watch and might involve impacts with cars, humans, and other objects. These chases result from a lack of training, and officers often base their responses on instinctual predatory human behavior (we all do this as a reaction to a stressful situation!).

Just this week in the news was a story of ten police officers responding to chase a pony that was loose.

Trained officers know that, by chasing a horse, they will only increase the chance of the animal getting injured (or killed) or injuring a bystander or well-meaning responder. The use of a vehicle to chase a horse is ridiculous and fraught with danger. Horses can actually run themselves to death when being chased, as well as impact objects, people, and vehicles. Or, they can fall into holes or pits. Chasing on foot or attempting to lasso the animal is similarly dangerous for the horse, as well as for people

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Written by:

Michelle Anderson is the former digital managing editor at The Horse. A lifelong horse owner, Anderson competes in dressage and enjoys trail riding. She’s a Washington State University graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in business administration and extensive coursework in animal sciences. She has worked in equine publishing since 1998. She currently lives with her husband on a small horse property in Central Oregon.

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