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It took four years of planning to feature Large Animal Rescue at New Zealand’s premier horse expo, Equidays NZ, but it was worth every second of the wait.

It was first mooted in 2013, nearly happened in 2015 then the organisers decided it would be a highlight of Equidays in 2017 and I’m so pleased I was able to control my impatience.

Over the three days of this mighty expo I delivered Large Animal Rescue presentations that covered what can go wrong and how quickly it happens; what to do and not do if a horse becomes trapped; the horrors of mud and unstable ground rescues, and how to handle incidents involving horse floats.

With the support of Massey University’s Veterinary Emergency Response Team (VERT), their mannequin and equipment, plus volunteers from the audience, we knocked spectators’ socks off with rescue scenarios in the demo pen, cutting arena and scary derby course.

Our enthusiastic audience represented all age groups and equine disciplines, and included Equidays staff and volunteers and even the on-duty paramedics! A delightful little boy bounced in his seat, gave me huge smiles and thumbs up when I showed positive mud rescue photos and videos. His frowns showed clearly how disappointed he was with any shots of rescuers doing incorrect or dangerous things. There’s nothing like getting them young and, when he grows up, I can see this captivating kid with a future as an actor or comedian, or possibly a Large Animal Rescue Specialist.

A number of horse owners who are also emergency responders introduced themselves and we were able to direct them to the right person for FENZ (Fire Emergency New Zealand) Large Animal Rescue training. Other spectators asked how they can work with VERT to establish a Large Animal Rescue response in their own parts of New Zealand. How good is that!

Feedback included:

  • “I am very keen to be part of this program in any way you see fit and offer my services whenever you need me. I truly believe how important this program is and the awareness that needs to be made.”
  • “I have waited years to meet you and listen to your presentations.”
  • “I was absolutely blown away with your passion and dedication to this important message.”
  • From one of the on-duty paramedics, “That was a brilliant demonstration. What you are doing is so very, very important.”

Thank you to Lynley Schollum, Equidays Event Executive who worked hard with me for four years to make this happen in 2017.

My thanks also to:

  • Hayley Squance, founder and head of Massey University Veterinary Emergency Response Team (VERT) who pulled together a small but well trained team of volunteers for the demos
  • Chris Riley, Professor of Equine Clinical Studies at Massey University and VERT volunteer who was our attending vet during the demos
  • Steve De Grey and Patrice Palleson-Putt, VERT volunteers who generously gave up their time to assist in the Equidays demos
  • Virginia Leighton-Jackson, our horse handler and my right hand
  • My sister Claire De Thierry who looked after me and looked after the stand while Virginia and I went off to play in the dirt

If you have never been to Equidays NZ, you’re missing something special. The setting is absolutely glorious, the facilities are excellent, the international talent is the best to be found anywhere and the atmosphere is so much better than at Big Brother Equitana over the ditch. This was my second visit to Equidays NZ and I hope it won’t be the last.


With Virginia Leighton-Jackson waiting for Equidays NZ 2017 to begin. MR ED (Massey Rescue Emergency Dummy) models the new BARTA quick-release halter, which attracted a lot of attention.

With Virginia Leighton-Jackson waiting for Equidays NZ 2017 to begin. MR ED (Massey Rescue Emergency Dummy) models the new BARTA quick-release halter, which attracted a lot of attention.

In the cutting arena for our horse float rescue scenario are four VERT volunteers with helpers from the audience. Back row from left are two gentlemen whose names I didn't catch, with Patrice Palleson-Putt, Steve De Grey, Hayley Squance, Chris Riley and commentator, yours truly. Standing in front (with blue sleeves) is my lovely niece Andrea De Thierry with another two happy volunteers. Thank you all!

In the cutting arena for our horse float rescue scenario are four VERT volunteers with helpers from the audience. Back row from left are two gentlemen whose names I didn’t catch, with Patrice Palleson-Putt, Steve De Grey, Hayley Squance, Chris Riley and commentator, yours truly. Standing in front (with blue sleeves) is my lovely niece Andrea De Thierry with another two happy volunteers. Thank you all!

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My wonderful sister Claire De Thierry who had my back, looked after the stand while Virginia and I were busy with demos and talked knowledgably about the photos behind her and the BARTA quick-release halter.

My wonderful sister Claire De Thierry who had my back, looked after the stand while Virginia and I were busy with demos and talked knowledgably about the photos behind her and the BARTA quick-release halter.

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A great group of people – new faces and familiar faces – joined me at the milestone 50th Queensland Horse Council Large Animal Rescue workshop at Burpengary on Saturday the 23rd of September 2017.

Sonja Wyeth came for a refresher after attending the very first workshop just down the road at Caboolture five years and two weeks before. Also there for a refresher were father and daughter, Malcolm and Portia Warman. Congratulations to Portia who has become the go-to person for Large Animal Rescue advice when horses become trapped in her area. This is what it’s all about.

Six enthusiastic volunteers from Closeburn Rural Fire Brigade joined a representative from Gatton Police and a South African vet nurse whose Large Animal Rescue experience includes elephants and other endangered exotics.

Participants had plenty of questions for Nicole Graham who described how her and Astro’s traumatic rescue from Avalon Beach as the tide came in affected not only her but her 7-year-old daughter Paris (deeply in both their cases) and Astro (hardly at all).

My thanks to workshop organiser Kaye Gunston and her team from Northern Districts Hack and Dressage Inc. whose tireless efforts attracted a diverse group of participants and ensured a day that flowed smoothly. Without selfless, hard working people such as Gaye, these workshops would not be the tremendous success they are and I am grateful to every one of you. Thank you.

The next QHC Large Animal Rescue workshop is at Maitland in NSW on Saturday the 11th of November, and the final workshop for 2017 will be at Launceston in Tasmania on Sunday the 10th of December.

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“Your presentation (and demonstrations) was one of the best that I have ever attended.” Dr Adrian C. Bryant, veterinarian, Gilgai, NSW.

Bob McKinnon, Team Leader Animal Biosecurity and Welfare, North West Local Land Services, organised my latest Large Animal Rescue information workshop, at Tamworth in NSW.

Forty-three engaged and articulate participants — Local Land Services staff, representatives from Australian Veterinary Association and Veterinary Health Research, SES volunteers, vets, a couple of vet nurses and a handful of horse owners — enjoyed the perfect training venue at the NSW DPI Training Centre, once they found it. Bob said DON’T USE GOOGLE MAPS and those of us who didn’t hear him the first time soon found out why. Google, you should be ashamed for overlaying your maps wrongly on the Tamworth map. No matter where in Tamworth you want to go, you will have an interesting journey. I tried to find a particular cafe for dinner, enjoyed a lengthy tour of the ‘burbs before reaching my destination and being told to walk from there. In the dark, across an unlit wasteland? Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

Everything else was perfect, thanks in no small part to the availability of SESil, one of Hawkesbury SES’s rescue training mannequins. Thank you, David King, for allowing us to use SESil, and Bob McKinnon and Amy Sheridan for driving the five hours to Wilberforce to pick him up and, again, to return him. SESil very nearly had a change of name when one wit asked if he was called Neigh-deen!

I enjoyed lively discussions with participants during my presentation and at morning tea and lunch, and the cold and sleet didn’t deter participants from working with SESil with several happy to repeat techniques until they were cool with them. Did I mention it was cold? It dropped to 0°C overnight and we worked in a fresh 8°C with a brisk southerly breeze. For a girl from the Gold Coast where daytime temps are still in the low 20s, it was interesting.

The weather had one last laugh; the following morning our 6:30 a.m. flight was delayed for five hours due to fog. Thanks, Tamworth. No matter what you throw at me, I look forward to returning!

“Once again thank you for the training you delivered yesterday. Interesting. Relevant. Credible. Your comments on managing the ‘scene’ were spot on. What is the process for getting you to Northern NSW again (Inverell probably) to deliver this training?” Andrew Biddle, District Veterinarian, Northern Tablelands Local Land Services

“This was the best workshop of any description that I’ve ever attended!” Bob McKinnon, Team Leader Animal Biosecurity and Welfare, North West Local Land ServicesTamworth 1 (640x275) Tamworth 2 (640x360) Tamworth 3 (640x360) Tamworth 4 (640x367) Tamworth 5 (640x391) Tamworth 6 (640x360) Tamworth 7 (640x360) Tamworth 8 (640x225) Tamworth 9 (479x479)

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What a turnout! Fifty-two participants joined us for the 46th Queensland Horse Council Large Animal Rescue workshop, held on Saturday the 12th of November 2016 at Main Ridge on Victoria’s beautiful Mornington Peninsula.

The stalwarts at Mornington Peninsula Equine Landcare Group (MPELG) – Gai Van Staveren, Sue Halchenko, Helen Burke and Alan Costello – worked long and hard and endured months of Thursday night dinners to make this workshop happen. Gai first contacted me two years ago almost to the day, and I commend her for securing sponsorship from Mornington Peninsula Shire Council to enable 41 CFA and SES volunteers to attend at no cost.

The response from those volunteers to the knowledge they gained was gratifying; by the end of the workshop, several senior brigade members had worked out how to share resources and manpower at future large animal rescues. This is what it’s all about.

Other reactions were equally positive. Mornington Peninsula Shire Council animal management officers threw themselves into the day with great enthusiasm, asking probing questions and absorbing information while members of SES road crash crews instantly understood the need to keep the scene calm and quiet saying, “This is exactly how we handle human extractions so it all makes sense to us.” They also made sure they spent plenty of time working with the mannequin and equipment.

On behalf of a community group from Maccelsfield and Arthurs Creek, Eric Bast gave a presentation on a discussion paper released that day. The aim of the paper is to generate discussion about the possibility of developing a national Technical Large Animal Rescue training scheme. If you are interested, please join the Technical Large Animal Rescue Action group on FB and share your experiences, good and not so good.

A secondary aim of the Main Ridge workshop was to raise funds to purchase a cache of Large Animal Rescue equipment for rescues on the Mornington Peninsula. MPELG is well on the way to realising this goal thanks to money raised on the day, and they offer their grateful thanks to those who donated.

Thank you also to Lancefield Equestrian Group for the use of their beautiful new rescue training mannequin. This unnamed mare was straight out of her shipping crate and her presence made the practical session more realistic, giving all involved a better understanding of the dangers and challenges inherent in rescuing trapped large animals. She is now available for Large Animal Rescue training throughout Victoria, with her next scheduled appearance at my workshop at Kyneton on Saturday the 4th of March next year.

Having a mannequin stabled in Victoria means DRT Logistics no longer has to transport Hoss, the Queensland Horse Council mannequin, all the way from Queensland for my workshops as they have done since April 2014. Again, my thanks to Nicole Graham, her parents Shane and Margaret Splatt, Scott Splatt and DRT’s Werribee and Rocklea staff for their professionalism and unfailing courtesy and good humour. Your sponsorship has been invaluable and all who had the opportunity to work with a mannequin rather than inflatable zebra sincerely appreciated his availability.

As always, thank you Virginia Leighton-Jackson for the hard yards and heavy lifting of mannequin and equipment at these workshops. Her help ensures everything flows smoothly and makes the workshops so much easier for me.

Howzat! Occasionally throughout my morning PowerPoint presentation at Main Ridge, we heard enthusiastic cheering from a small crowd outside the hall. I’d have loved if the noisy ones had joined us but, sadly, it turns out they weren’t cheering me. They were watching cricket.

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bouldy1Twenty-four engaged and enthusiastic participants attended the 45th Queensland Horse Council Large Animal Rescue workshop, held in the tiny Central Queensland town of Bouldercombe on Saturday the 22nd of October.

Miracle worker Claire Bourke of ATHRA secured yet another Queensland Government Grant that enabled Bouldercombe Horse Trail Riders Club to offer this workshop at a significant discount to ATHRA members and free to Rural Fire Brigade volunteers.

Ken Kirkwood hired a brilliant venue, the Bouldy sports shed, and this rates in the top three of the best places I’ve ever conducted these workshops. Thanks, Ken, it was an inspirational choice. The shed was huge, clean, well ventilated in the 30°C heat and provided perfect shade for the hands-on section.

Joan Hart missed my last workshop just up the road at Rockhampton back in 2013 and waited impatiently for three years for me to return. She was so enthusiastic she managed to convince her husband Doug to join us, quite an accomplishment, so she says. I had quite a chat with Doug and Rural Fire Brigade volunteers who would like to see Large Animal Rescue become an integral part of emergency services training in Central Queensland. I would really like that to happen.

Sadly, Zebedee gave his last gasp at the previous workshop and I had to purchase a replacement inflatable zebra. Much to my shock, they have undergone gender reassignment surgery and Zebedee is now Debra the Zebra… bouldy2 bouldy3 bouldy4 bouldy5 bouldy6 bouldy7 bouldy8 bouldy9 bouldy10 bouldy11 bouldy12 bouldy13 bouldy14 bouldy15 bouldy16


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Next week, five Resquip rescue training mannequins – 3 horses and 2 cows – will arrive in Australia. Not only is this the largest consignment of mannequins to come Downunder, in another first, two of the horses are mares.

NSW SES1NSW SES declared 2016 “The Year of Large Animal Rescue” and purchased horse and cow mannequins to join SESil in training SES units within the State. Their first training course is at Forbes later this month.







SA SES matched NSW’s horse and cow and raised it by equipping most SES units with Resquip rescue glides and other items of Large Animal Rescue equipment.





LEG horseLancewood Equestrian Group in Victoria successfully applied for a Victoria DPI Animal Welfare grant that enabled them to purchase a mannequin and cache of equipment. These will be held at Macedon Ranges Shire Council for use throughout Victoria by CFA, SES and others. The first confirmed booking for the mannequin and equipment is for a Queensland Horse Council one-day Large Animal Rescue workshop at Main Ridge Community Hall on the Mornington Peninsula on 12 November 2016.




These new imports bring the total number of Resquip rescue training mannequins in Australasia to 13:

  • 4 in NSW (1 cow & 1 horse owned by NSW SES, 1 horse by EVA and 1 horse by Hawkesbury SES)
  • 3 in Queensland (1 cow & 1 horse owned by Greenbank Rural Fire Brigade, 1 horse by Queensland Horse Council)
  • 3 in SA (1 cow & 1 horse owned by SA SES, 1 horse by Horse SA)
  • 1 in WA (horse owned by Diane Bennit and Christina Slater)
  • 1 in Victoria (horse owned by Lancewood Equestrian Group for use throughout Victoria)
  • 1 in New Zealand (horse owned by Massey University Veterinary Response Team)


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13659167_10153922500822987_326268636343510426_nCongratulations to Anthony Hatch, Senior Rescue Instructor with Fire & Rescue NSW, on receiving Equine Veterinarians Australia’s award for services to the Australian horse industry.

Hatchy received this  award from EVA President Dr Ian Fulton at a ceremony at EVA’s annual Gala Awards’ Night on the 21st of July 2016..

Hatchy, who has more than 30 years’ experience in rescue, includes as highlights of his career his involvement in the successful rescue of Stuart Diver in the Thredbo landslide, and being part of the USAR team to the Japanese tsunami for which he received a Humanitarian Medal.

Growing up n a Riverina sheep station, Hatchy’s interest in animal welfare continued into his professional career. After failing in his untrained attempts to rescue trapped large animals, he identified deficiencies in Australia’s approach to these rescues. In 2008, he applied for and received a Winston Churchill Fellowship and in 2009 travelled to the USA, UK and Europe to research world’s best practise in Large Animal Rescue.

On his return to Australia, Hatchy adapted the overseas Large Animal Rescue training packages and began training SES, Fire & Rescue, Mounted Police, RSPCA Inspectors, veterinarians, and racing stewards and barrier attendants.

In 2011, EVA (with sponsorship from Provet and Troy) purchased a Resquip rescue training mannequin and reached an arrangement with Fire & Rescue NSW that Hatchy could join EVA volunteers to train equine veterinarians and vet science students in Large Animal Rescue techniques. To date, Hatchy has trained more than 300 vets and countless more emergency personnel to safely manage emergency horse rescues in this country.

The EVA President congratulated Hatchy for his lasting contribution to the horse industry and expressed how proud he was to present this award to a very deserving man.

I extend my personal thanks to Hatchy who has supported me from our first contact – and whose pioneering work in Large Animal Rescue in Australia made it so much easier for those of us who now also work in this area.

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Beautiful Brookleigh Equestrian Centre in Western Australia’s Swan Valley was again the venue for two well attended and very well received Queensland Horse Council Large Animal Rescue workshops for WA Horse Council. This is the second year we have used Brookleigh’s superb facilities and they were much appreciated by workshop participants from Department of Fire & Emergency Service, SES Mounted Section, Rural Fire Service, veterinarians, RDA, Equestrian WA, rangers and Natural Resource Management, as well as horse owners and breeders and the Royal Agricultural Society Ringmaster, Risk Manager and head of arena crew.

Our special guests this year were State Member for Swan Hills Frank Alban MLA and Cr Rod Henderson of Swan Valley/Gidgegannup Ward, both of whom have a passionate interest in developing a Large Animal Rescue capability within Western Australian emergency services.

Feedback from the workshops was again overwhelmingly positive with everyone completing the WAHC Large Animal Rescue survey (see below).

Horror stories As always, people shared their own mistakes, near misses and horror stories. Shauna Alban described how, even when you do everything safely, carefully and by the book your horse can still injure you critically. Shauna and her young daughter were moving their horses to a new paddock. “I was so careful, especially as Laura and her pony were with me. Laura led her pony through the gate first; I followed with my horse and woke up in hospital.” Without warning, Shauna’s horse had spun around and kicked her in the face and the injuries were so devastating she required extensive facial reconstruction. “One inch that way and I would have been dead.”

Police Officer (now retired) Dee Fredericks was first on scene at a head-on crash involving two 4WD’s and a float. Both drivers were seriously injured and still in their vehicles. The float had jack-knifed killing one horse instantly, and the tailgate popped open enabling the force of the collision to eject the second horse onto the bitumen. “It was still alive, had horrendous injuries and was flailing around in blood and gore when I arrived, with its hysterical young owner crawling all over it, trying to hold it down.”

Dee’s voice shook as she added, “My mind was going, ‘dead horse, severely injured horse, injured people, no one to look after the girl if I should shoot the horse.’ I had to try to get sense out of the severely injured drivers, organise ambulances and a vet and get the girl out of the gore and away from her horse.” The girl had to be sedated so she could be removed while the vet euthanased the horse. “The vet arranged removal of the dead horses while I followed the injured people to hospital, wrote my report and went back to work.”

Volunteer fire fighter, Andrew Wilson’s vehicle and float were hit by a road train and he said, “I did everything wrong, everything you said we shouldn’t do!” Andrew was halfway to a midweek dressage competition at the SEC with his 700 kilo, 17hh Percheron/TB cross, Maestro. “We reached the T-intersection at Toodyay Road and I stopped as I always do because with such a big horse I don’t want to have to slam on my brakes at the last minute.” Andrew was turning left so checked that nothing was coming from his right. “The road was clear for about a kilometre, and I began to pull out. It never occurred to me to also look left because there’s a double white line in front of that intersection. Suddenly, there was an almighty bang as I was hit by a road train that was on my side of the double white line overtaking a row of cars.” The road train ripped the front off Andrew’s Toyota Prado and tore off a front tyre – but it didn’t stop. Even with all the missing bits, somehow the engine was still running, sort-of, so Andrew limped the Prado to a safe place.

Maestro was going ballistic in the float, slamming backwards and forwards and kicking at the tailgate. “He was coming out no matter what I did or didn’t do and I wanted some semblance of control of him.” Fortunately, the float has a front ramp on the near side so Andrew was able to get Maestro out using the car and float as a barrier between them and the busy road. He and Maestro survived, the Prado was a write-off but the only damage to the float was a huge curve in the breast bar where Maestro had hit it. A passing resident pulled up and offered the use of a yard nearby, Police eventually caught up with the road train and prosecuted the driver.

Andrew says, “I was lucky. I had no skill or knowledge of what to do, I was just lucky.” And his advice to other horse owners who tow floats? “Expect the unexpected!”

Finally, Geraint Maddison of DFES would like to remind you to ensure your float’s brake cable is shorter than the chains between your towing vehicle and float. Geraint attended an accident where the float’s brakes didn’t engage because the cable was too long. “When the tow ball came off the hitch it rested on the crossed chains and the float began to sway then fishtail before overturning.” Such a simple thing to get right.

Thank you My thanks to Diane Bennit and WAHC’s Large Animal Rescue Committee for inviting me to Perth for a third visit in three years, and special thanks to Christina Slater, Mel Cooper, Chris Horvath, Robert Hawes, Tracie Farrington and Simon Barrey for their help at the two workshops. Thanks also to Peter and Dee Fredericks of Horseplay Photos for these superb shots. View them all at

Participants at Tuesday's workshop

Participants at Tuesday’s workshop

Mud rescue Five days after my second Perth workshop, Diane Bennit, Chair of WA Horse Council, answered the phone to a voice asking, “Are you the horse rescue lady?”

It was the Station Officer of Maddington Fire Brigade about a horse stuck deep in mud. Diane said, “They had one person in the mud putting rope around the horse’s front legs and, due to my having attended MaryAnne’s workshops, I was able to help them over the phone until the vet came.” Diane told him to get that person out of the dam, keep everyone away from the horse, ring a vet to sedate, and to release the suction of the mud before pulling. “Every time I told him to do something, he would yell out ‘the horse lady says to do this’.” That phrase has now become Diane’s catch-cry.

Fortunately the crew that rescued the horse included four who had attended my workshops the previous week – Natalie Beard, Mel Cooper and Ben Oxwell from the SES Mounted Section and Dylan Tiecher, a DFES Rescue Officer. This widely publicised rescue with the involvement of people who knew what they were doing has generated an enormous amount of interest in conducting these rescues properly and safely and we hope it will help lead to formal LAR training within WA emergency services.

If you are in WA and have ever been involved in rescuing a horse from entrapment, WAHC is conducting the first survey in Australia regarding Large Animal Rescues. Valuable information received from this survey will assist with the planning of future Large Animal Rescue workshops and training courses in Western Australia. Click on the link to start the survey.

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There was a sense of anticipation and quiet excitement as delegates to the 6th International Large Animal Rescue conference gathered in Prague earlier this month.

They were keen to learn, share experiences and meet others from around the world who share their passion for rescuing trapped large animals. They came from Austria and Australia, the UK and US, Canada, the Czech Republic and all places in between and loved every informative, entertaining, food-filled minute of it.

Organisers Jim Green and Josh Slater built the conference programme around the difference between human and animal-related incidents where animals present unique challenges and push responders (including vets) beyond their normal working practices.

Topics covered included fire, equipment and techniques, human behaviour, horse behaviour, safety and welfare including chemical restraint, triage, patient care and euthanasia, focusing on the casualty instead of technical aspects of rescue, horse and livestock transportation including transporting injured horses, flooding, and translating principles of horse rescue to racing and equestrian competitions.

Most delegates were emergency responders and vets, with the odd horse owner here and there. For me, the highlights of the conference and nuggets of information I picked up are:

  • meeting LAR friends from around the world whom I hadn’t seen since the last international conference two years ago
  • meeting in person the wonderful Large Animal Rescue people I have met online
  • paying it forward – agreeing that “Equine Emergency Rescue: a guide to Large Animal Rescue” can be translated into German and rewritten for emergency responders. So many people helped me when I started my LAR journey and I am proud to continue the tradition
  • every Fire and Rescue truck should carry a pole syringe
  • the day you meet this hazardous material that may explode without warning may be the worst day of its life
  • at a rescue, predictable (animal) behaviour becomes predictably unpredictable
  • a sedated horse is not a safe horse, it is very difficult to read
  • hearing is the first sense to return when sedation begins to wear off
  • beware the horse that starts recovering from its sedation, you’ll all be tired so don’t drop your guard
  • there are always crazy horse people, everywhere
  • the challenges of translating routine veterinary practice techniques into the rescue scene, working outside comfort zones
  • planning and prevention is everything
  • straw (as used in stable bedding) burns faster than petrol
  • you have only 5-7 minutes from when a fire starts to a “fully involved” level of fire
  • would you have time to act if a fire took hold in your stables? What are you going to do about it?
  • wouldn’t it be better to build and modify stables so the fire risks are much less?
  • establish a Fire Safety Action Plan knowing you will have no time to get to your stable, halter your horse and get out. It’s that simple
  • in the event of fire, your hose needs to be long enough to reach every part of your stables and yards
  • hi viz gear does not frighten horses
  • why help animals in disasters?
  • jetlag is not my friend

Large Animal Rescue veteran, Timothy Collins from Santa Barbara Humane Society, declared that the speakers and content of the 2015 conference in Prague were superior in every way to the very first LAR conferences held in the US many years ago. Tim extended his thanks on behalf of us all to conference organisers Jim Green and Professor Josh Slater of BARTA (British Animal Rescue and Trauma Care Association) for such a stimulating and engaging conference.

You’ll be pleased to know BARTA is already planning the next International Conference which will be held in 2017 at Cambridge University in the UK. More information to follow.


With my partner in non fiction Michelle Staples from Canada, conference organisers Professor Josh Slater and Jim Green from British Animal Rescue and Trauma Association, Anton Phillips Watch Commander and Animal Rescue Specialist from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, and Diane Bennit Chair of WA Horse Council.


With three very impressive ladies – Sarah Houstoun UK Equestrian Safety Consultant, Sarah Weston Logical Horsemanship in the UK, and speaker Gemma Pearson Senior Clinical Scholar in Equine Practice at the Royal School of Veterinary Studies in Edinburgh


With Michelle Staples, author of “Save Your Horse”, the one and only Rebecca Gimenez of Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue, and Tim Collins of Santa Barbara Humane Society in the US


With Tony Ward and Paul Barrett-Brown of Resquip Rescue


With my very good friend Michelle Staples. In the rain…


At yet another superb dinner in Prague with Diane Bennit, Anton Phillips, Yoanna Maitre, Nadine Phillips and Margaret Holt


With Anton Phillips, Watch Commander and Animal Rescue Specialist with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service


I participated in the workshop entitled, “Ambulance design for the 21st century (what does the ideal horse ambulance look like and why?)” We decided it should be modular, easy to load and unload, good access with multiple escape routes, have a smooth ride and be stable.


Heading for the conference dinner on an antique tram. With Diane Bennit, Chair of WA Horse Council, and Julie Fiedler, EO of Horse SA.


The conference dinner (with many, many others) in a beer hall.


Hatchy survived the conference dinner, but only just.


Sadly, the conference is over. Our last dinner – Margaret Holt from the USA, Diane Bennit from WA, Michelle Staples from Canada, and Julie Fiedler from SA.


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Volunteers from six Rural Fire Brigades and one SES unit joined two vets and 12 horse owners plus representatives from Fraser Coast Regional Council, local businesses and rescue organisations at Maryborough Showgrounds for the latest QHC Large Animal Rescue workshop.

The weather on Sunday was perfect, the venue superb and the 35 participants were engaged, curious, motivated to learn and so taken with Hoss and the hands-on exercises that I had to rope in Virginia and Zebedee to help so everyone could practise, practise and practise again. Lunch was late but no one noticed; they just wanted to spend more time working with the boys.

Wanda Lyon worked miracles to make this workshop happen. Right up until the last minute there were so few registrations we considered cancelling but Wanda refused to give up – this workshop was a triumph to her tenacity and everyone is grateful she hung in to the very end. Think of what we would have missed! Wanda, thank you from all of us. You’re a special lady.

Tracey Hillier from Fraser Coast Regional Council (on behalf of the impressive Maryborough Showgrounds) worked magic to ensure the day ran smoothly. You need a screen? Here it is. Do you need more chairs? How many? Nothing was too much trouble for her and she is a dream to work with. Thanks again, Tracey!

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