Mounted Search and Rescue Operations Use and Need the Skills Learned In Trail Riding

September 22, 2014

Trail Riding SkillsTrail riding develops the skills used in mounted search and rescue missions (MSAR). We aren’t the only ones who have noticed that active and regular trail riders have many of the necessary tools for searching for lost children and missing people. According to Irvin Lichtenstein, Chief of Operations for the Southeast Pennsylvania Search and Rescue unit, trail riders can put their knowledge and riding experience to work helping others.

In terms of search and rescue, he points out that horses have excellent smell, hearing and see things humans often overlook. As a prey animal, people don’t typically develop the senses a flight animal uses. As such, a horse will notice smells and pay attention to sounds a person will miss. Horses are wonderful observers.

Mr. Lichtenstein gives a number of ways that you can make you and your horse ready to help a search and rescue effort. You start by riding the trails a lot, camping, trailering, and spending sufficient time on the back of your horse to get to know his reactions. He correctly brings up the need to trust your horse and for the horse to trust you. This relationship only develops with time together and experiences that create the bonds and mutual understanding needed for the work.

We also appreciated his advice in taking trail rides fully packed for a search and rescue. It teaches your horse to be prepared and ready. The last thing you need when out to rescue someone is your own injury from an overly excited horse surprised by some new piece of equipment or the excitement he senses from you. The suggestion to practice riding the trail just like you were searching for a lost person makes sense.

Trail riders be ready! You and your horse may be needed at any time and we know you will be able and ready to lend a hand!


Mounted Search and Rescue Training Operations Offer Huge Benefits

September 13, 2014

Hats off to the Livingston Co. Sheriff’s Department for their field training operations. Last month, the mounted patrol conducted a practice search and rescue operation for its mounted posse. The advantages to actual in the field training exercises for officers and their horses are significant:

  • become familiar with an area likely to require a MSAR unit
  • expose their horses to the commotion and stress of a search
  • give less experienced members and horses training
  • allow the public to know the unit can be mobilized when needed
  • builds confidence levels for both horses and riders
  • enables leadership to know areas for training reinforcement.

This training session allowed the mounted patrol to practice two drills. One searching for a special needs child and the second looking for discarded evidence from a fleeing criminal. Both scenarios are tasks well suited to these volunteer officers making their community a better, safer, and more secure place to live.

 

 


Is Mounted Unit work for you?

March 14, 2014

Mounted Police Trail ObstacleBy: Joann K. Long of Gentle Dove Farms

Do you want to enjoy your equestrian passion while contributing to your community? That thought was how my husband and I became actively involved in volunteer mounted patrol work. Our local Sheriff’s department had a Mounted Unit and we could proudly serve with our own horses if we met the membership criteria.

There were several criteria to be met, including an initial interview and background check. Of course the horses had their own testing as well. Fortunately, we had quiet, well-behaved horses that would be an asset to the unit. Each unit has their own testing criteria, but most include demonstrating equitation, obstacle maneuvers, public demeanor, and horsemanship skills. If the criterion were met, then a commitment would be made to participate in regular training and support Law enforcement and Search and Rescue activities.

Training consisted of formation riding, sensory and obstacle control, basic search and rescue techniques, crowd control, police equitation, arrest techniques, situation control, vehicle extrication, and fireworks and night maneuvers. Further, scenario training included simulated real life events such as containing protesters, search and rescue situations, and VIP escorts. Each member puts in numerous hours of individual training on their horse to prepare them for patrol.

Service and duties vary from patrol to patrol, but typically the Mounted Unit devotes many hours to traffic and crowd control, patrolling parks, concerts, fairs, festivals, and other public relation events, as well as participation in parades and park & pets (where the horse needs to stand calmly as children run around and sometimes crowd the horse to get their pets in).

In addition to the regular duties and community service, some mounted unit members participate in mounted police competitions held throughout each state and internationally. Competitions act as a form of training, networking with other Mounted Police Units, and a means of sharing strategies, methods and skills in the challenges of mounted work.

The general equestrian public typically take trail rides through a park, but one of my favorite ‘trail’ rides was riding down the center of my town on my horse, looking for new experiences and stopping to let the kids pet my horse. If you have a sense of ‘oh that would be fun’ then you’d be a great candidate for your local mounted patrol!

My husband and I were proud to serve our community. Most people were excited to pet our horses and talk to the mounted police – in contrast you don’t normally see kids excited to walk up to a patrol car and try to pet it! Mounted units provide a great way to make a positive connection within the community. Personally, I’m privileged to have belonged to a Mounted Unit and enjoyed my passion for horseback riding while giving back to my community. You may still see me riding down the city streets of my town!

Joann Long Mounted Patrol Officer

Joann Long Mounted Patrol Officer

The mounted unit provides training from which every horseman could benefit. Their training was the framework towards developing our equine partnership. We had great success in police horse competitions and were frequently asked how we trained our horses. From those inquiries, Gentle Dove Farm was born – to teach the general equestrian public mounted police style training. We encourage partnership, communication, and exceptional trust mounted police style! If you’d like to know more, please visit www.GentleDoveFarm.com!

Happy and safe riding!

Joann K. Long

©Gentle Dove Farm


Rogers Co. Mounted Patrol Unit; Big Plans For 2014

February 22, 2014

The Rogers Co. Mounted Patrol, whose focus is primarily search and rescue operations, has big plans for 2014. Rogers Co. Sheriff, Scott Walton and Deputy, Coy Jennings, are about to announce the plans for 2014 for the mounted patrol. One objective that can be disclosed is the goal to increase the number of volunteers qualified to participate. Both Walton and Jennings feel strongly that active community participation with the Sheriff’s department brings all types of benefits to the community, helping make Rogers County a better place to live.

Wisely, Sheriff Walton and Deputy Jennings recognize mounted search and rescue (“MSAR”) is an efficient way to find lost and missing people. By using community volunteers, the Sheriff’s department can leverage its resources in emergency situations by involving the local citizens. After all, more ground can be quickly covered by horseback than any other means, especially when you consider both horse and rider have the ability to hear and smell. Unlike searches by plane, patrol units can listen for cries for help and offer assistance. Mounted patrol can also investigate brushy and areas hard to see from the air.

The plans are underway and just as soon as we are authorized, the events will be posted. If you would like to assist in the mounted patrol, you can contact Coy Jennings at the Rogers County Sheriff’s Department 918-923-4477.

 


Rogers Co. Sheriff Certifies Pete & Jack: Level 1 MSAR

December 6, 2013

PeteThe Rogers Co. Sheriff Department has certified Pete and Jack, two of our AQHA quarter horses, for the mounted search and rescue “MSAR” patrol. Both received approval for Level 1 Certification, this means they are approved to be called for any situation at any time. There are three levels for horse certification in the department. Level 1 is the highest certification available and approves the horse for all situations. Level 2 means the horse is certified for limited operations and by approval in only limited situations. Level 3 is certification to attend training events, but no field operations. Level 3 is intended for horses that have potential, but need additional training before use in a real life event. There were a number of applicants that received no certification as the horses were not qualified for the program.

A separate certification is required for each volunteer to serve as a reserve officer for the MSAR operations. We are happy to announce Shawn McKibbin received his certification as a responder and serves on an “immediate” call basis. Shawn oversees the training program at Post Oak Ranch and spends a lot of his time teaching young horses the ropes. The crossover from the routine daily training to develop trustworthy trail horses to certified MSAR mounts is a natural one. Our horses must pass a number of internal tests for soundness, stamina, disposition, and ability, many of the same attributes required for search and rescue horses. We insist that our horses be “using horses” and “working animals” ready for a variety of activities including MSAR operations.

JackSome of you will no doubt recall Jack was used in a search and rescue operation during the first year in our training program and located a lost little boy. He has keen hearing and pays attention to his surroundings. The boy was heard by Jack over the noise of helicopters, 4-wheelers, and a full-scale search and rescue operation. He alerted Shawn who had been requested to assist by local law enforcement. When Jack became interested in something that could be neither seen nor heard with human senses, Shawn turned the direction of Jack’s focus to investigate further. The little boy was found a short while later resulting in some greatly relieved parents.

Congratulations to Shawn for qualifying the horses and himself! He will be a real asset to the Sheriff’s mounted patrol posse!


Trail Challenges and Mounted Patrol Qualifications have Similarities

October 22, 2013

Sunday afternoon two of our horses, Pete and Jack, went to the Rogers Co. Sheriff department’s qualification test to see if they were a good fit. They were. Interestingly, the trail challenge obstacles courses we blog about from time to time are not all that different. Both are designed to test the horse and rider to see if obstacles will pose a problem. Clearly the last thing the Rogers Co. Sheriff needs is an accident involving someone trying to help. While the Sheriff needs your help and assistance, he has enough on his hands in a search and rescue operation to deal with. He doesn’t need untrained horses in the mix.The qualification process is designed to eliminate horses that are not suitable before the next emergency. Horses that are not calm, cool and collected aren’t appropriate. We learned some applicants try to apply for service using horses that may perform well in some event or show ring, but not in search and rescue operations as they are just too high-strung and jazzed up. Search and rescue from horseback, “MSAR” short for Mounted Search and Rescue demands horses that don’t spook, aren’t afraid of unusual situations, and ready to work hard to find a missing child or person.

If you have any interest in helping the effort, you can contact Coy Jenkins (918)798-7723 with the Rogers Co. Sheriff department for more information or check out that smiling face on the Facebook page.