Least Resistance Training Concepts

Volunteers Training for Emergencies

  Large Animal Evac and Technical Rescue Activities
October 18, 2017

  Rescuing a Drowning Wild Horse
from the Milan Pond

The Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center (TRIC,) located just south of I-80 in Storey County, NV, is the largest industrial park in North America. It is also home to several hundred free-roaming Virginia Range horses that the park's corporations typically enjoy seeing. Many corporate executives have described TRIC's unique environment, including the presence of the horses, as factors influencing their decisions to locate at the park.

Typical view in the industrial park.

Art work on Wal-Mart's water storage tank.

The Milan Pond is a natural runoff retention pond located near the end of Milan Drive. It collects runoff from snow melt and occasional summer rainstorms. The pond tends to dry up over the summer, however it is one of the regularly used water sources for the horses.

Unusual weather patterns in the late summer of 2017 resulted in a sticky bog developing at the west end of the pond. As the water receded horses would try to navigate the firmer areas to drink.

On the morning of October 18, some volunteers who helped monitor the horses discovered a mare who appeared to be totally mired in the soft mud. They kept the other horses away and called for help.

LRTC's Technical Large Animal Rescue Team responded, assisted by a volunteer from LBL Equine Rescue.

First arriving on-scene were volunteers Richard and Shelly Vazquez. The only supplies they happened to have were some pieces of 2x4 lumber that they used as ground padding in order for them to get to the horse, and to place under her head so she wouldn't drown.

As more responders arrived, ropes were deployed to help prevent the horse from flailing about and sinking deeper, and life vests were used to help keep the horse's head above water.

As more equipment arrived, ground padding was deployed so that the rescuers could operate more safely, and to serve as "landing pads" upon which to haul the horse out. It was now possible to place a recovery strap around the horse to haul her out of the water.

Safely getting the recovery strap around a horse in the mud can be a real challenge.

Dragging the horse out of the water.

Getting the horse to the point that her head wouldn't sink under water was the first step. However the sticky mud made it nearly impossible to get her completely clear of the bog.

Setting up the speed mount winch to anchor a vectoring operation.

A view of the extrication layout

Getting the horse onto firm ground.

(The life vests were redeployed to protect her head from nearby rocks.)

Continue to Part Two: Completing the Rescue Operation

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The training information presented in these information sheets and guides is offered for illustrative and volunteer refresher purposes only. It is not a substitute for actual hands-on training.

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