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Devon and Somerset Fire Service highlight key equestrian safety issues in Access Week

10 June 2014

Large Animal Rescue Demonstration HorseMembers of the South Somerset Bridleways Association were treated to a Large Animal Rescue Service demonstration by the Devon and Somerset Fire Service during Access Week on Tuesday 20 May.

The event started with a discussion on fire prevention and safety in the yard, stressing the importance of all yards re-evaluating their fire safety drill regularly. The Fire Service also gave examples of previous rescues, emphasising the importance of keeping horses calm in the event of an emergency.

Following the discussion, the firemen gave a demonstration using a model horse to show how they attach straps and restraints to a horse in order to pull it to safety, and how and where the horse is released. The audience were impressed by the firemen’s clear understanding of the natural reactions of a horse in a stressful situation.

Even on the most relaxed of rides, accidents can and do happen – horses are unpredictable animals and so it is important to be prepared for these eventualities. It was therefore a useful demonstration for the attendants to see how the emergency services would deal with an accident on an off-road route.

Large Animal Rescue Demonstration Moving HorseThe day also emphasised the need to wear hi-viz to a recognised standard at all times when out hacking, even if purely riding off-road, as the emergency services will spot a rider lying injured much faster in the event of an accident. Helicopters will also see appropriately clad riders much sooner to allow them to take avoidance action. The BHS recommends a minimum of a hi-viz jacket or tabard for the rider and leg bands for the horse.

The South Somerset Bridleways Association and the fire crew urge everyone involved with horses to review their safety procedures to make an emergency situation as easy as it can be for both the rescue services and the horse. 

The demonstration is a great example of the diverse events that take place during the Society’s Access Week to raise awareness of equestrian access issues throughout the UK, and it also highlights another key area of the charity’s work, equestrian safety. Read more about the work we do to make a safer world for horses and those who care for them, as well as what we do to protect and preserve the equestrian off-road network

Thanks go to the Devon and Somerset Fire Service for their excellent presentation and demonstration.

Devon and Somerset Fire Service’s Top Tips for Yard Safety

Have the following details readily available to relay to the emergency services:

  • Name and contact number of yard owner/manager
  • Address including postcode
  • Coordinates of location of incident
  • Number of horses involved
  • What the danger is (fire, horse trapped in river or ditch etc.)
  • Where is the horse refuge(s) and how will they get there (separate refuge for stallions)

What else is useful?

  • A correctly fitting headcollar or halter for each horse (not leather)
  • Name and telephone number of vet
  • A fire extinguisher
  • Note of any fuel kept on site
  • Torch – with charged batteries
  • Plan of the premises to show road entrance, horse refuge, hay store, feed room, tack room, electric fuse box and water supply – and the location and distance of the nearest water course if there is one

Measures to prevent fire

  • Keep fuel and feedstuffs separate
  • Keep the muck heap away from the buildings
  • Don’t park the horsebox in the hay barn and keep away from stable buildings
  • Have a fire extinguisher on site
  • One plug per electric socket
  • No trailing leads
  • Be aware of presence of a farrier
  • One link in a stable chain should be a sacrifice link made of plaited baler twine

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