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f you’re an avid competitor, chances are you can recall at least one serious accident occurring to a horse and/ or a rider while attending a competition. Unfortunately, it can happen to any horse, rider, handler, or driver at any time. For medical emergencies, accredited horse shows normally have the riders and spectators covered with EMT services at their disposal. But it’s a completely different story for the horses. If

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there’s an injured 1,400-pound animal in an arena or on a course not able to walk, then moving him is a huge challenge for show organizers. An injured horse is not going to be easy to move 20 feet let alone 20 miles. Gratefully veterinarians are normally on the premises or “on call” to administer emergency treatment, however emergency medical transport is somewhat a new phenomenon for our equine athletes—until recently. Since 2000, the non-profit organization called HEART,

Humane Equine Aid and Rapid Transport, has been

groundbreaking in its mission and services. HEART is the first organization to have a staff of trained professionals who can arrive very quickly with a state- of-the-art horse ambulance to deal with an injured horse, whether on the course, in an arena or even in his stall. If the horse can’t stand or walk, the crew can use a specially designed sled to move the horse into the ambulance with ample room for the attending veterinarian to consider treatment options including euthanasia. Having privacy away from onlookers to work with the veterinarian is also a huge benefit for owners and riders. The idea for HEART began with

the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, where they had designed the first ambulance for horses— a retrofitted two horse trailer. Meri Straz saw the need after the Olympics for the continued availability of this type of equine ambulance and she bought it to use as such, but the whole concept took awhile to get off the ground. Now, 13 years later, the original ambulance serves as the second ambulance for HEART while the primary ambulance is custom designed and fairly new.

The organization is regularly hired by show organizers to be available at scheduled competitions, and competitors are charged a nominal fee on their entry forms. Warmbloods Today spoke to four hunter or jumper

competitors who were far away from home at a horse show when faced with an emergency situation with their horse. Although each story is slightly different, they all agreed that HEART was the best five dollars they have ever spent on a show entry. They attested to HEART’s efficiency, knowledge and

professionalism, noting the organization’s equipment and trailer was state-of-the-art. Much of the stress in an already precarious situation was alleviated thanks to staffers offering comfort and calmness for both horse and owner. Each person sang only praises for the way this unique non-profit organization operated in difficult circumstances.

LYNN WALSH’S SWEDISH WARMBLOOD OCEAN PARK

In 2008, successful amateur hunter rider Lynn Walsh of Magnolia, Texas, who rides and trains with Peter Pletcher of PJP Farm, had traveled to compete at many leading horse shows along the east coast. After showing at

Above: Lynn Walsh competes Ocean Park in Amateur Hunters.

Photo © Randi Muster Photography

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