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Emergency Services for Humans and their Equines Question

So a remark by Younger Sister 2 tonight sent me on a completely uncontrollable question and answer search. She said she was going to go ride a friend’s greenie but would be alone.

That statement had me wondering what would happen if she needed to avail herself of EMS services for an ambulance ride to the hospital. Would EMS ( in the complete absence of another human capable of taking control of the horse) throw that horse in a stall or round pen to prevent further injuries? If they did, would they even know how to take a bridle off? Or a saddle? Would they even do that if possible? It also got me thinking that with as many horses are in our area, EMS/Fire/Police need to at least know to throw the horse in a stall or pasture and how to do it safely. It’s got me wondering if there is any sort of large animal training that they have to or can take.

What about in y’all’s area? Is there any large animal or equine specific training that you know of that Fire/EMS/Police have available to them? Do y’all have any suggestions?

I would love if any current or former first responders could give me some insight please!

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There are some rescues or shelters that offer basic instruction to fire departments, police, or other shelters in how to halter a horse, how to lead, why not to walk behind a horse, that sort of thing. There are a few that have special equipment like a sling for lifting a horse out of a ditch that can be called in when such assistance is necessary.

If you want to do something about the lack of skills, you could contact your local police or emergency services and offer to show them a few safety pointers in horse handling. They may take you up on it, especially if you’re in a horsey area.

Look at what’s available for other areas and maybe get some tips from the groups that are active in providing such instruction on what and how to teach emergency responders about horse handling.

I don’t know for sure, and I’m sure this depends on the jurisdiction and their protocol and training … but I think that the EMS crew would call Animal Control to come take control of the horse. Or whatever department serves that function depending on the area. Some smaller jurisdictions don’t have animal control.

A loose horse would be a danger to the public, so I have a feeling that if they don’t have another option, they will call the police or sheriff’s department and let them take the situation from there. Theoretically LE could at least use some vehicles to help block the horse into a corner somewhere. (Although we know how that can turn out with a spooky horse.)

But … in the moment, especially if the EMS needs to whisk the patient away promptly, it may be up to the EMT’s having a spare person with the goodwill and patience to stay behind and hold the horse until some other authority came. Or if the horse is already loose, just report it as above.

And yes … police and sheriff’s departments vary a lot on their horse knowledge. Past experience with horses is not as common as it used to be, even in rural areas. Their training and preparation may by a YMMV situation.

We have some COTH’ers with LE and other relevant experience. I’m sure they will chime in. @TheJenners , where are you? :slight_smile:

We have a group like this in my area. They are not affiliated with LE, and operate as a charity.
They specialize in large-animal rescue and animal care in emergency situations that are beyond the scope of first responders or the local Humane Society.

So if a horse/cow/donkey gets stuck in a pond, or there’s a barn fire and animals need a short - term home, these guys step in. First responders and the PD know when to call them and they step in, triage, and take care of the animals on the short term, even moving them to their own farms if necessary.

In this hypothetical situation, these guys could come out after the fact and handle the loose horse appropriately, but response time varies due to a host of reasons.

What the EMS does in the moment? Good question. I hope someone on the truck would know to at least get the animal secured safely.

I had a bad fall off my bolting horse when I was alone in an area with next to no traffic nor houses. I got knocked out. As I was finally realizing where I was and what had happened, a guy out jogging came tearing up and said he was looking for a body. I asked why, and he said he found a horse walking loose with a saddle and bridle on. He didn’t know anything about horses but knew a loose horse couldn’t be a good thing. He tied my horse to a fence (by the reins, but he didn’t know better, and he had no other option anyway). I called my BO, and she came to get me by car and dropped her helper off to get the horse home.

I can just imagine what would have happened if my horse had tried to cross the busy street to get to the barn all on his own. I am so lucky that the jogger took the initiative to secure my horse. What a nice guy. I did inform him that I was the dead body he was looking for. Why do people always assume I’m dead when something stupid happens?

I would also like to know what EMS would do. They weren’t called for my situation (I actually got myself home once DH brought me a spare pair of glasses). That area used to be very horsey but was less and less so by the time of this incident. So I’m betting most EMS folks wouldn’t have any specific training for dealing with horses.



I can just imagine what would have happened if my horse had tried to cross the busy street to get to the barn all on his own.

,my older daughter and a horse wise friend had two of our horses out riding when the other girl feel off, it was said the little mare just looked at the girl on the ground with an expression I had Nothing to Do With That, the mare turned and trotted home. To get home she had about three miles to get back through the city with a crossing of a heavily traffic four lane highway… by then the police were following the little mare but said the horse appeared to know where it was going and did not interfere with traffic so they did not attempt to capture her. They said the mare went to the crosswalk, looked both ways before starting across, got the middle stopped to look both ways again then trotted across…so the police followed her all the way to our gate…with older daughter and her friend riding double coming up behind.


Lots of options. We actually don’t have an ACO but most LE in the area know other LE who have horses and would call them for help, advice, suggestions. Additionally the data system often has “premise info” to attempt to reach a property owner. I’ve also in a pinch used our GIS system to look at property records, and then deep dive that way for contact information. I have actually called everyone with a certain unique last name once because how many could there be? and reached a brother who helped with a thing.

But would EMS mess with a horse? Big fat no. They are there for the injured human only. The FD has some training and we have a roster of vets who are willing to respond to sedate to, say, hoist a horse out of a well. Usually once all that starts rolling tho, volunteers come pouring in and it’s all taken care of.


I was thinking about this when I took my mare for her walk yesterday. We go to a neighboring conservation area (forested mostly, some open fields) or across the street and either in another conservation area or along streets in a very quiet subdivision. We can get a mile or two from the barn, easily.

I kind of know what to do if something happens to her (call animal control, call the vet), but what if something happens to me? I suspect if there is any grass nearby she won’t go any further than that, unless we are close to the barn (in which case, G-d help us all if she takes a shortcut through the yard of the neighbor that hates horses** to get back to her paddock…)

So I’m thinking, she needs some sort of ID I can put on her just for our walks, with barn owner’s name and number, mine etc. I don’t want to leave something attached to her all the time. Neck collar? Any ideas?

**The neighbor may not hate horses, but she hates that when my BO bought the place, she turned the 6 acre field that was neighbor’s kids’ play area into horse pastures. I think the house had been empty for a while, so no one was really paying attention to the kids “tresspassing”. Luckily for BO, it’s a “right to farm” community, so the neighbor had no ability to stop BO from setting up her horse property as she wanted to – and really, if one’s going to live next door to horse property, the way it’s set up is pretty good (no more than 6 horses, adult boarders only, meticulously maintained, manure pile nowhere near the neighbors, etc.) Apparently one of the kids really likes horses, but BO does not allow the kid on the property, because of the hostility of the neighbor. And this makes BO sad. But the point is, there are no fences between the 2 properties, and mare’s most direct route home would go right through the neighbor’s yard.

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When I hack out, I have my phone (loaded with vet, farrier, barn manager, etc. numbers) attached to me. The Goober has a repurposed luggage tag attached to one of his saddle dees displaying the same numbers, plus my name and number and a note to the effect of “If you’re reading this, please call rider first.”

My hope is that in the event of an involuntary separation, a) he will stick around or b) I will be quickly up and following on foot. But if things are more problematic, people will know who to call to get the assistance party started.


Some areas have an awesome resource in trained response teams. Do a search for TLAER (Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue). They have an incredibly useful public facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/tlaer which is not for the faint of the heart at times, but very useful as a resource.
When I take my horse, Buddy, out he wears a leather neck collar with my name, address, and mobile phone. I am planning to get another one for young Sonny and probably add my husband’s number as well. Buddy used to wear it all the time, and I would still like him to but Sonny doesn’t need any other reason to hang onto Buddy’s neck.
I got the neck collar because when I had first gotten him, he got out. Cue a panicked call by mom to 911 and then to me at work. (My mom was housebound). I made it home in an obscenely fast time to find Buddy in the drive looking like he was about to explode and surrounded by no less than both town constables and three state troopers. Only one of whom had any horse training at all and was trying his best to figure out what to do. Did I mention Buddy weighs 2000lbs and at the time was head shy and prone to kicking?
I would like both Buddy and Sonny to be wearing them, because for a non horse person trying to get a halter on a spooked horse of any size is hard. But, at the moment they aren’t. Mainly due to the insistence on ‘halter tag’ by Sonny.

I would not be surprised … but it’s kind of like walking away from an unmanned car, in gear, that is rolling into traffic. A loose horse is a major hazard to humans in a populated area, especially with roads and traffic. Hopefully the FD gets there quickly! :slight_smile:

This reminded me that a few years ago locally, two loose horses that apparently escaped from a pasture were causing a traffic situation. The FD responded and managed to catch them. The horse owner was never located, had probably moved away and abandoned them where he had been pasture-boarding them. The horses ended up at sheriff’s auction, still together. Word got out, and a nice lady and her husband came to the auction and bought them as a pair to live as ornaments at their farm. Happy ending. Thankfully there were a few guys in the FD team who had a clue how to catch these two peacefully. The horses had clearly not been handled in a long time, but were basically tame and halter-broke.

This also makes me think that there are a lot of urgent situations that can create large-animal-emergencies wherever large animals are located close to human populations. I can see where a large animal rescue team would be a good thing to have. Those situations often cause people emergencies as well. Flooding that has fences weak and/or down is a big one in flood-prone areas. Fallen trees that bring down fences. Even wild animals wandering into town and getting into trouble. Things like that.


No, not really, sorry. First of all an unmanned car involved in a collision will have already stopped doing what it was doing, a horse is free to continue to move about, usually with a mind of its own and prone to panic. Also EVERYONE knows how to put a car in park or pull/stomp the parking brake and take out the keys.


Our Sheriff’s Department has a “Sheriff’s Posse” so we have plenty of horse knowledge in our local LE. There are two divisions, one is comprised of Reserve officers (armed) and one of trained volunteers (unarmed).

Each member is required to own and have transport for their own horse. They participate in searches for missing people and were integral in catching and evacuating horses and livestock during the many wildfires we’ve had.


I have no idea? There are a lot of horses in my area so I am sure this has come up.

Thanks y’all. I will look into everything y’all have put on here and see what the situation is at our local sheriff’s department and fire house. If nothing else, maybe I can arrange to have the shifts come out over time and do a quick how to at least throw a halter on and take a bridle off safely. They’re less than 5 miles from me. In that 5 miles are at least 40 horses that I can confirm and many more that I know are there but don’t have exact numbers on.

I appreciate y’all’s help immensely!


Keep in mind that they are unlikely to have a halter on hand. But they are likely to have a length of some kind of rope or line.

If you can teach them how to channel a horse into a closed-in area with the least excitement/panic possible, and then how to approach a horse (even backing up to a spooky one), that could help a lot. And how to identify a good area to aim for - not too narrow, the horse may be reluctant. And how to just let the horse stand there until they start lowering their head to show some calm.

And then … how to put a lead or rope over a horses neck just behind the head and hold it closed. And put a loop over the nose, too. No one ever understands how close it needs to be on the first try, it’s often too loose and then the horse bolts.

Teach them not to stand in front of a galloping horse, and not to think that they can grab a running horse going by. It is the instinct of a wild-mind horse to run down a ‘predator’. In an extreme wild-mind, the tamest horse may run over a human. Serious, life-threatening, life-altering injuries can result.

From watching total horse newbies in a barn: They may never figure out a halter, or remember it for more than 10-15 minutes if they don’t have chances to practice. Go ahead and teach it, of course, but keep expectations modest.

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I have discussed this with the EMT at one of the local HTs, who is also part of the local Emergency Services, in a relatively horsey area. He know horses himself, and he says the rest of the crew get basic training in handling emergencies that involve horses.


Any emergency call that involves calling EMS out there will also dispatch the police.

No one is going to just leave a horse wandering, the police/fire/dispatch will find someone to figure out the proper thing to do with the horse, even if it is a temporary proper thing.


I live in a big city and have been pleasantly surprised from what I’ve seen of police responses to loose horses. We do have mounted police so they may call them for guidance when it happens, plus it’s a big enough department I imagine some have outside horse experience.

The horses look pretty unstressed in both of these and were unharmed by their adventures.