Tuesday, November 15, 2016

15th November, 2016 Knight in Shining Armour

It's been a while since we have done any training with the FRS Animal Rescue Team, thanks to the upheaval that all public sector services have been going through, so it was great to be able to welcome back my favourite Fireman, Ady Knight, and his team, Kevin ("Gerbil"), Dave, Neal, and Peter.

However, none of the training would be possible without the substantial help of a great team of volunteers: Vanessa L, Tracey, Amanda, Victoria, and Sophie, and horse owners and helpers, Sarah, Vanessa C, and Jackie, who brought five new horses along for the firemen to play with. It's hard for them as we are not teaching their horses Horse Agility but teaching the firemen techniques that might be useful in an emergency, which means that their horses might feel unsettled at times. No great worries though, the firemen are used to reassuring people even if they think: "Ffffsss, that looks nasty" (or even life threatening), and the horses were soon thinking that they were their new best friends - even sensitive Indi who was noted to "not like men."; he was totally convinced and went round the course like a professional.

Indi "does not like men"; he does now!
At the outset we did wonder if we might need to parcel two of the horses back up because they were so excited and strong with their own owner, dragging the rope out of her hands and galloping around the field. A little bit of sobering up was required but they actually worked beautifully and were so so brave. Sarah, with Arabian, Jaz, ought to be so proud of her superb little horse who didn't behave in the least bit like Arabs can despite looking like a porcelain statue. Sam was his sanguine self and wasn't even worried about Henrietta this time (last time he visited he was shocked that any such woman could exist).

Jaz: Flying the flag for the Arabian Horse

We started off quietly, catching the horses and ponies in their respective pens, and then some leading work which also included how to ask a horse to stand still and not molest-you. This is important if you are at the scene of an accident and a companion horse has to be kept quiet while another horse is in trouble.

Copper took a while to cross the mattress, bogey obstacle of the day, but handled the tunnel with alacrity.

The main scenario involved a pretend fire, where the main door to the building was blocked, and each of the horses needed to be rescued in a calm and organised fashion, one after the other. The secondary exit to the building meant negotiating a very narrow door and walking through fanning flames. Like a lot of yards it is multi-purpose and therefore there are lots of obstructions along the escape route.

Kesali was fine with the mattress, but didn't like the tunnel

The firemen are all wonderful people and genuinely the knights in shining armour, or at least blue overalls, that you would want to see if your horse was in trouble. They have all earned their Intelligent Horsemanship Certificate in Horse Handling for The Emergency Services which I am able to offer thanks to Kelly Marks.

Sam is no trouble and loads beautifully.
"Thanks for today...we all enjoyed it and learnt a lot. Please pass on our thanks to the owners and helpers." Adrian Knight
"Thanks for a fantastic day today Sarah, really great to be able to work with so many horses and owners and learn from you." DA, Fire Officer 
"Thank you ever so much for having my ponies today and for being fabulous" SB, owner and helper.
"Just wanted to say a very big thanks for letting me and the boys participate yesterday. I know it wasn't a training session for the ponies but I think mine got so much out of it. Please say thanks to the Fire Rescue team for being so lovely with the ponies. They were just great (especially the ones that took on Copper!)." JH
"Thank you so much for letting me come help today . It's was so well organised and you are such a great teacher." AR, Volunteer.