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Horses To The Rescue

We met this little girl and her mother at the Kroger in Jasper this past Saturday. I really liked the idea of her 4H project but had no idea it was as comprehensive as it is. Please enjoy this rather charming work from a FIFTH GRADER!!!!

2010 Cloverleaf DPA Project

Caitlin Carlile

Hi, my name is Caitlin Carlile. I am a 5th grader at Hill City Elementary School in Pickens County. I chose Horses for my project because I have been raised around horses. Most people know about Rodeos and Horse Shows but I believe very few are familiar with Mounted Search and Rescue. That is why I chose this topic for my project. So…, let’s talk about HORSES TO THE RESCUE:

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Horses are herd animals. They are social creatures who are able to form attachments to their own species and to other animals, including humans. In the past, horses were considered unintelligent. Recent studies show that they perform a number of cognitive tasks on a daily basis. And frequently engage in mental challenges. They respond to and learn from both positive and negative reinforcement. Their personality plays a role separately from intelligence in determining how a given animal responds to various experiences. The horse’s senses are generally superior to those of humans. As prey animals, they must be aware of their surroundings at all times. They have the largest eyes of any land mammal. Due to the eyes position on the sides of the head, horses have a range of vision that is more that 350 degrees. This allows the horse to see you when you are brushing its tail. Horses have excellent day and night vision, an exceptional sense of smell, good hearing, and a great sense of balance.  These facts concerning horses make them outstanding for search and rescue.

A search and rescue horse is a horse trained and used to perform mounted search and rescue. Mounted search and rescue responders can in some terrains move faster on the ground than a human on foot, transport more equipment and be physically less exhausted. Many counties have special deputized, usually volunteer, mounted search and rescue groups. Some of these groups date from World War II. Horses have two main uses: rapid response and subject transport. In places that are inaccessible to road-based emergency vehicles such as wilderness areas, large parks or other undeveloped areas these mounted search and rescue members and their horses go through extensive training that typically takes at least one year. The riders are trained in : search management, wilderness survival skills, map and compass skills, lost person behavior, use of resources, tracking skills, CPR, and first aid to name a few. The horses are trained to accept such things as: vehicle traffic, helicopters, crowds, umbrellas, flashlights, bridges, dogs, whistles, sirens, flashing lights, and public-address systems or bullhorns. The horses must also be obedient and free of vices like: kicking and biting, able to stand ties for extended periods of time, safely carry necessary equipment, and accept overnight confinement in the field like on a picket line or tether. The horses are periodically tested for fitness. A search and rescue horse can be trained to search for lost persons using its keen senses of hearing, scenting, and vision. Horses can be trained to follow scents-anything from people to narcotics. Riders generally take more training than the horses. They have known all their lives how to follow scents. Teaching people how to read the signs and allow the horse to follow the scent is the hard part.

Using horses for their scent-detecting ability is nothing new; Native Americans had long known about their ability and used horses to find buffalo herds. The ground scent is what bloodhounds follow, but air scent is the horse’s forte. The key is to recognize the signs when a horse is searching for a smell, has detected a scent and is following it, and the signals given if the horse loses it. Typically, the horse can detect a scent between 100 and 200 feet. This range is more adequate to find anyone lying in long grass, scrubland, or off to the side of a trail. What horses are following is a general human scent, not the scent of a particular person. If the horse finds the wrong person such as another searcher, you simply reward the horse and move on as you would with an air-scenting canine. The horse thinks it’s the best game in the world. It is believed that air-scenting horses will gain greater acceptance in search and rescue circles over the coming years and become another tool for search teams since they can cover long distances, often through quite difficult terrain.

Thank you for your time and attention. I hope you have learned something new about horses today.

3 Responses to Horses To The Rescue

  • NLinder says:

    Wow!! I can’t believe a 5th grader wrote this!! Great job Caitlin!! I am super impressed!

  • lwilliams says:

    Outstanding!!! She is a better writer than a lot of college students that i’ve known.

  • sdelyra says:

    This is a great job. Did anyone from our unit help Caitlin? It seems that we should stay in touch with her and her parents – there is a pony in here somewhere.