If the Unspeakable Happens, Are You Ready?

June 17, 2019 | by Emma Lewis and Jessica Toushan, BBRM Equine Management students

In emergency situations, appropriate interpretation of and response to a frightened animal’s behaviour can mean the difference between a tragedy and a successful rescue.

For a horse owner, even imagining our horses in dangerous situations is something that comes to us in nightmares. Despite our best efforts, horses can find themselves in emergency predicaments and knowing how to deal with this is a large part of taking care of these animals. Although we encounter regular dangers everyday (slips, falls and the list goes on…), in the horse world, emergencies happen when least expected. Often tragedies do not even seem real until they happen to you or someone you know. We need to be asking ourselves “What do I do?” when they arise.

The 15th annual International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) conference will be held in Guelph, ON from August 19-21. This conference brings together researchers, practitioners, trainers, coaches and horse enthusiasts to learn about the latest research and technology that can improve our relationship with horses. One of the hands-on workshops running in conjunction with the conference will be Large Animal Rescue Training (LART). This workshop will give participants the opportunity to try out “best practice” rescue techniques on a 600-pound horse mannequin, so that if an emergency were to arise, participants would know what to do. It will be a unique and invaluable experience for those participating in this activity. LART, led by Equine Guelph, will be instructed by a team, including Victor MacPherson with guest experts Drs. Rebecca Gimenez-Husted and Hayley Randle, along with Gayle Ecker and Dr. Susan Raymond.

LART victor photo
Victor MacPherson, lead instructor for LART

MacPherson is a Retired Master Corporal, having served in the Canadian Military attached to armoured units, and with NATO in Europe. He was District Fire Chief for Station 2 for the Adjala-Tosorontio Fire Department for 19 years, and is currently employed with the City of Vaughan as a Master Emergency Vehicle Technician and Acting Chief Mechanical Officer. He also facilitates fire services response for Farm and Food Care Ontario. MacPherson became involved with LART in 2013 after completing several training seminars, and assists in both training and facilitating courses with Equine Guelph and Dr Rebecca Gimenez-Husted.

rebecca gimenez
Gimenez-Husted, founder of the Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue program

Gimenez-Husted’s passion for horses started at a young age. While growing up she had horses of her own on her family farm in Florida. After working various jobs including breeding manager, editor and freelance writer for a magazine and working in the US Army Reserves, Gimenez-Husted returned to school to pursue a PhD in animal physiology from Clemson University, SC. This is where she met her future husband Dr. Tomas Gimenez, and together they developed the Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue program, providing veterinarians, horse owners and emergency responders with the appropriate training to handle emergency situations.

Dr. Hayley Randle, expert in equine behaviour

Dr Hayley Randle is an Associate Professor in equine science at Charles Stuart University in Australia, and has worked in the field of education for over 20 years. She frequently reviews veterinary journals and is a past president and current trustee for ISES. Dr Randle’s expertise in equine behaviour will complement the delivery of the technical aspects of large animal rescue. In emergency situations, appropriate interpretation of and response to a frightened animal’s behaviour can mean the difference between a tragedy and a successful rescue.

There are still spaces available in the LART workshop being held on Sunday August 18. Registration for LART can be made at the same time as registering for the ISES conference by clicking here. To register for the LART workshop only, please contact ISES2019@uoguelph.ca


Registration is now open for the 15th annual ISES conference. For all the details and links to registration and accommodations, visit the Equitation Science website or the Horse Portal.


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