Emergency responder horse handling training is a success

LEESBURG, Va., Oct. 2, 2008 – On Friday, Aug. 29 the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center once again welcomed emergency responders from four Northern Virginia counties to its basic and intermediate emergency responder horse handling programs. The program was offered as a joint effort by the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center and the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg.

In attendance for the basic program were 20 emergency responders; course content included basic horse handling and safety. An important topic covered in the basic program is what to do until a veterinarian arrives on the scene of an emergency.

The intermediate program consisted of 18 participants and included an array of topics for those who possessed more advanced horse-handling skills or had completed the basic course. Subjects covered in the intermediate session included additional horse handling skills, an overview of different types of horse trailers, and how to load and unload horses. In addition, a segment on first aid taught participants how to check a horse’s vital signs, bandage application techniques, and other first aid topics for use in an emergency.

“We wanted to offer an intermediate level of training for emergency responders because there was clearly a demand for it,” noted Dr. Jennifer Brown, clinical assistant professor in equine surgery at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg. “We heard back from people who had taken the seminar we offered for beginners. Those people said they really wanted to add to their skills.

“We divided the intermediate training session into two segments: first, we discussed each of our topics in great detail,” Brown said. “Then, during the next few hours, we put everything into practice,” she continued. “We try to do a lot of ‘hands-on’ practice at our sessions; that’s the best way to learn this material.”

According to Shea Porr, interim superintendent for the Middleburg center and equine Extension agent, one participant remarked that it was “an excellent program.” Another stated, “I thought the class was fun and well worth the drive. I would recommend it to anyone who may be an emergency responder, whether paid or volunteer.”

“The MARE Center was happy to host another valuable community event such as this one,” Porr stated.

While Porr and Brown directed the day’s programs, two additional veterinarians assisted the students as they worked toward learning this aspect of equine emergency care that will help them both professionally and personally. All program attendees will receive a certificate from Virginia Cooperative Extension acknowledging their participation.

Virginia Tech’s Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center’s mission is to advance the health and well-being of the horse through graduate education for equine professionals, nutritional and pasture management research, and community educational programs. Located in Middleburg, Va., the center is one of 13 Agricultural Research and Extension Centers located across the state that help serve the commonwealth's agricultural needs.

Virginia Tech’s Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center is a premier full-service equine hospital located in Leesburg, Va. It offers advanced specialty care, 24-hour emergency treatment, and diagnostic services for all ages and breeds of horses. One of three campuses that comprise the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (http://www.vetmed.vt.edu), the center’s team of equine specialists is committed to providing exceptional treatment to patients, superior service to clients, and cutting-edge research to the equine industry.