Thursday, 30 September 2010

Training the Animal Rescue Unit of the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service

On Monday 27th September, Understanding Horses ran a special Equine Handling training day for Animal Rescue officers from the specialist unit of the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service. These firefighters do a brilliant job rescuing horses and ponies from very difficult situations. It's very reassuring to know that help is out there, if you are ever unlucky enough to be in an accident where your horse gets stuck.

Our training day mixed theory with lots of practical, hands-on sessions with our ponies. The firefighters were able to experience the difference between getting close to, and handling, domestic equines as well as those that are nervous and fearful.
(Above, Bobby initally feels very worried about the thought of this yellow strop, but within 5 minutes is happily wearing it after firefighter Stan uses our special techniques to prove to Bobby that it's not scary...whilst Frodo (below) can't understand why it is that horses find umbrellas scary (surely it should be some sort of receptacle for food!!))

Topics covered on the day included:
  • Basic horse psychology and instincts of the horse, and how we incorporate these into our techniques for effectiveness and safety.

  • Learning to interpret and read the body language of the horse.

  • How human actions and body language affect and influence the horse.

  • How to use special techniques to approach wary equines and to acclimatise them to unfamiliar equipment.

  • How to safely lead equines and deal with difficult situations or unusual objects.

It was a very enjoyable day, the ponies were brilliant teachers, and the firefighters were quick learners, with some great natural ability. If all goes to plan, we'll run a level 2 training day for them in spring 2011. We had excellent feedback from the firefighters at the end of the day:

"Excellent experience and insight into equine behaviour".

"Practical session of the course was really beneficial, especially advance and retreat".

"Excellent course, very interesting and informative. Ponies very suitable for course".

"The whole course was very enjoyable and relevant to our profession. I feel substantially better equipped to do my job. The horse psychology was fascinating...The teaching was nearly surpassed by the hospitality!!"

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