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Large Animal Rescue workshop, Main Ridge, Victoria, 12 November 2016

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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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