[MSAR] Suggestions for MSAR related classes at WA State SAR Conference

Una Smith una.smith at att.net
Sat Feb 25 10:48:09 EST 2006

New Mexico's SAR conference, ESCAPE, typically is held at venues
that have their own horse outfitter strings.  ESCAPE participants
are forbidden to bring horses, lest they expose the resident herd
to any germs.  So hands on MSAR training during ESCAPE is not

What we have found useful is an MSAR forum, in effect a statewide
group meeting of MSAR responders.  Now each specialty has such a 
forum, all scheduled at the same time, the first thing Saturday
AM.  Then, tracks.  There is always a K9 track.  A big item on our
agenda is to have a joint K9 and MSAR session, shared between the
K9 and MSAR tracks, on scent theory and basic training in scent
detection and recognizing your animal's alerts.  As others here
have mentioned, horses are far more aware of and responsive to
clues than most riders realize.  Useful training in the past has
included having DVMs discuss with us the "envelope" of effective
deployment.  For example, how much water do horses need in a 24
hour period, and how often in that period do they need to drink?
Some riders know a horse turned out on open range may drink only
once a day;  other riders perceive they need to provide a water
stop every 2-3 hours.

I want to organize another Effective Sweep Width experiment, with
horses involved, but probably that cannot happen during ESCAPE.
Washington State might be able to swing it, though, if horses are
permitted on site.

What hands-on MSAR training could we provide at ESCAPE, given our

One such training I want is to provide a horse with shoes on, for
students to remove under supervision from a farrier.  Ie, simulate
common problems encountered in the field.  Similarly, I want to
provide a horse that will stand calmly for novice leg wrappers,
and have students actually apply a polo wrap.  This is something
more easily demonstrated than done by the student.  Ditto apply an
Easy Boot or similar.  Many New Mexico MSAR responders are very
experienced and skilled at these basic tasks;  others have basic
knowledge from seeing demos and reading books, but lack hands-on

In my opinion, apart from hands-on MSAR training, the best training
of all is to get more MSAR responders to subscribe to MSAR-Riders!
Use the state conferences to focus on basic training in land SAR
skills:  map reading, navigation, GPS, planning, first aid, being
equipped and prepared for common contingencies, risk assessment,
field team leadership, tracking and scent awareness, radio and cell
phone use and management, ELT, etc.

	Una Smith
	New Mexico

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