There was little room for horsing around at an equine first-aid course in the South Cariboo last weekend.
The emergency training course, held at Free Style Farm on Horse Lake Road, aimed to provide participants with the confidence to assess and treat their horses in the event of injury or illness, said instructor Heidi Grant, of Equi-Health Canada.
“Every horse, unfortunately, tends to find themselves in a situation that gives us horse owners a run for our money,” Grant, a Lone Butte resident, said. “But being able to respond and being aware of any changes in your horse is so important.”
The weekend was split into a beginner course on Saturday and an advanced session on Sunday.
The first day focused on basic equine health and how to monitor vitals and detect signs of illness or injury.
“We went over how to monitor your horse to see if there’s any changes that might be telling you if there’s a situation arising,” Grant explained. “Horses are so stoic… they tend to suck it up and not give us many signs that something’s wrong.”
The advanced course the following day covered how to tend to more serious injuries, such as fractures and breaks, broken ribs, chest wounds, gut injuries and punctures.
The skills taught are meant as a first response, Grant said, noting that veterinarian care is always recommended with any serious injury or illness.
In a rural setting, where veterinary care can take time to access, knowing how to provide initial emergency care is imperative.
It’s the main reason participant Becky Kendall – who took part in both the beginner and advanced sessions – signed up for the weekend.
“We’re so rural out here, it might take a while to get to a vet so it’s best to be prepared,” Kendall said. “There are also so few vets in our area, I wish there was more.”
Grant said the course was well-received by locals and plans are in the works to host another session at Free Style Farm in the spring.
Through Equi-Health Canada she also offers courses on how to safely trailer your horse – including an understanding of the equipment and safety regulations – and disaster planning and emergency preparedness.
“With the wildfires we have seen in our area, that one is about having an emergency plan in place and how to react to it,” she said.