You've reached the Virginia Cooperative Extension Newsletter Archive. These files cover more than ten years of newsletters posted on our old website (through April/May 2009), and are provided for historical purposes only. As such, they may contain out-of-date references and broken links.

To see our latest newsletters and current information, visit our website at

Newsletter Archive index:

Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Emergency Responder Horse Handling Training

Livestock Update, March 2008

Dr. Shea Porr, Northern District Equine Extension Agent or 540-687-3521 ext 27

The Virginia State Animal Response Team (VASART, is organizing, and part of their development includes training programs for volunteers who would participate in animal rescue and management during an emergency.  Virginia Cooperative Extension is participating by assisting in the development of these training programs.  County agents working with veterinarians from the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center have already conducted basic trainings and are developing intermediate programs that will build on previous efforts.

The first Emergency Responder Basic Horse Handling Training was conducted in December 2007 at the MARE Center in Middleburg.  Participants included 23 members of Fairfax County’s Fire and Rescue and Police Departments.  The 4 hour program included approximately 2 hours of lecture and presentation and was followed by 2 hours of hands-on training.  The lecture portion of the program included presentations on the basics on equine behavior under normal and stressed conditions, safe handling techniques, and included an introduction to basic tack.  A veterinarian segment covered tips on what to do until the vet arrives on the scene of an accident or disaster and went over what can happen to horses in various types of emergency situations.  The hands-on segment allowed participants to practice catching and releasing horses safely in stalls and paddocks; to lead, turn, stop, and back the animals; and to tie horses safely using quick-release knots.

An Intermediate Training Program is being developed at this time, and will include basic first aid and bandaging methods, loading and unloading horses from various types of trailers, and handling horses exposed to the flashing lights and sirens of emergency vehicles.  This program, in conjunction with the Basic Program, will hopefully prepare participants for the 3-day Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue training that will be brought into Virginia in 2009.

Emergency Preparedness for Horse Owners will be offered later in 2008, and will help horse owners be better prepared in case an emergency or disaster happens to or near them.  Having the right equipment and supplies, and having enough of them, isn’t enough.  Evacuation plans are also necessary and require planning ahead of time.

These programs will be offered in various locations around the Northern District on a regular basis and will be made available to agents in other districts as requested.  For more information, contact Shea Porr ( or you local Virginia Cooperative Extension Office.


Visit Virginia Cooperative Extension