One of the key functions of the BHS is to educate people so that equines have better and safer lives.
With this in mind, and following up on a request form St Austell fire service, The Cornwall Branch of The British Horse Society asked Jo Batty Smith and Tamsin Banks to put together a training package for the local Cornish Fire crews.
This was done in two sessions: one theory and the second practical at Resparveth Riding School.
The aim of the theory session which consisted of a Power Point presentation and Q&A was to share our knowledge and expertise in equine handling.
This was achieved and we had excellent feedback from the fire crew based at St Austell and a member from Bodmin who told us that they were now:
- Better informed.
- Able to give appropriate advice to horse owners when asked about fire prevention or when they attend a fire.
- Have a better understanding of equine behaviour.
- Know where to go, and whom to ask for advice in different situations.
- Know about safe handling procedures for equines.
We then arranged a practical session which had to be close to the fire station in case the crew got a ‘Shout’ during the training. The aim of the practical session was to improve confidence in handling horses.
This was led by Suzy Morris of Resparveth Riding School with help from her daughter, Rebecca and several young people who were spending the day at the stables. The very anxious firemen turned up in their big red fire engine much to the delight of everyone there.
Suzy, who is an excellent teacher, started the session by revising some basic principles about the need to be calm and relaxed handling horses. She explained about locks and catches on stable doors and how to get safely into a stable without getting trapped, then how to lead safely through a door and out into an open space. The firemen were quick learners and the horses were very relaxed and took no notice of the helmets, thick gloves and breathing apparatus.
Suzy discussed headcollars and halters and the firemen got to look at different types of headcollar and try them out on the horses and ponies. Some were easier than others, especially wearing thick gloves.
As we know, the smallest is not always the easiest...
But in the end he gave in.
Everyone practised leading different sized horses and ponies in the barn and then went outside to see how the horses would behave in an open space.
The compressor in the fire engine was turned on and the big yellow hose wound out making lots of noise and vibration. One of the firemen then sprayed a mist of water near the horses taking great care not to hit the horse with the water... but not minding getting his colleague wet!
This showed how the horses ‘grew’ and behaved differently when confronted with something strange.
The children and young people at Rosparveth were really helpful and engaged, asking lots of questions and learning lots too.
Finally we put the horses back in their boxes and all had tea, cakes and carrots.
From Jo and Tamsin's points of view it was a great day and wonderful to see so many people happy, working together and learning new things. We thought that it was time well spent.
Thanks must go to the whole team at Rosparveth, the Morris family, children, ponies and Charlotte Conlay who made the delicious cakes.
The Firemen enjoyed it too:
“Thank you again for all you have done organising the horse training for us. It was extremely useful and as you probably saw we all really enjoyed it, the confidence gained just from a couple of hours around the animals this morning was priceless.I will of course thank Suzy as well but I just wanted to let you know how grateful we are to you and Jo in making it all possible."
Cornwall Fire & Rescue Service
St Austell Community Fire Station