Least Resistance Training Concepts

Volunteers Training for Emergencies

  Large Animal Evac and Technical Rescue Activities
August 4, 2017

  Wild Horse that
Could Not Stand

We received a call late in the day on August 4 about a BLM wild horse that was spotted by range volunteers as having difficulty standing. He was observed spending most of the time "dog sitting." The location was too distant to reach before dark so we suggested providing some feed and water to the horse if possible and to check back at first light.

The locals provided some hay, spreading some additional hay around so that the range horses wouldn't consume the debilitated horse's hay. They also provided some water in a small container.

At daybreak the next morning the horse was found to be in the same condition as the evening before.

Image transmitted to us by mobile phone at twilight.

Rescue 3 was out of service for an axle replacement so we gathered up the gear that we expected to need at the scene, stowed it all in Transport 3, and headed to Douglas County.

Upon arrival we found the horse much the same as described. He was alert but unable to rise in the hind end.

Our first action was to organize all the persons present. These individuals included LRTC's Stagecoach team, some LRTC members from Douglas County, and volunteers from the Pine Nut Wild Horse Advocates. A couple of citizens were also close by observing.

We established Incident Command (The IC also served as operations,) a Safety Officer, a Veterinary Medical Group (veterinary team) and Logistics. An initial safety briefing was also conducted.

The veterinary team approached the horse and observed from a distance that did not disturb the horse. No obvious physical signs of trauma were noticed.

Veterinary team carefully observing the horse before developing an action plan.

West Nile Virus had been active in the area. While very few range horses contracted the disease, this horse's symptoms greatly suggested West Nile Virus as a likely condition. Range horses have survived West Nile Virus if they were able to stay hydrated and get sufficient feed, so the veterinary decision was made to remove the horse for further evaluation and proper care.

A second briefing was held with all of the hands-on responders that discussed the Incident Action Plan, delineated everyone's responsibilities and updated the Safety Plan.

The first order of business was to sedate the horse in order to perform a more focused physical exam and to safely package him for transport. Being a wild horse we opted to utilize what we call a recovery strap take-down in order to safely approach the horse. This maneuver involved passing a 30 ft. recovery strap over the horse near the neck, then pull the ends of the strap while moving toward the side that the horse appeared most likely to tend to roll toward. Then we would carefully but quickly work our way up the strap to secure the horse's head and neck so he could be sedated.

Setting up the recovery strap take-down.

Once the horse was initially sedated, hobbles were applied to control the horse's legs, the horse's eyes were covered and the horse's head was managed. At this point a more focused exam could take place and additional sedation provided if the horse started to get active.

The Rescue Glide and transport trailer were brought close by and preparations were made to hobble roll the horse onto the glide. One person managed the head, the recovery strap (still around the neck) was used to help guide the head and neck into proper position, and the horse was log rolled onto the glide.

Note: We often log roll downed horses onto the Rescue Glide since remaining on one side for prolonged periods can cause various problems. We prefer to start a transport with the horse on a "fresh side" unless some physical trauma precludes doing so.

Setting up the hobble roll.

Rolling the horse.
Once on the Rescue Glide the other side of the horse could be more thoroughly examined for possible trauma and the horse could be packaged for transport.

Note: The image doesn't clearly show three dimensions. The rescuers were careful to stay clear of the strike zone during these maneuvers, even though the horse was sedated.

Head management during additional focused exam.

Continue to Part Two: Time to Load and Go

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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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