ABOUT HORSEBACK SEARCH & RESCUE
Why search on horseback?
Horses are faster, can carry more supplies to stay out longer, offer a higher viewing platform for searching, and provide a more rested rescue worker when a subject is found. Horseback units are also used to transport needed equipment such as medical equipment, block and tackle, litters, and radio equipment. Doctors and other medical personnel can be transported in a timely manner as needed.
What about injured subjects?
For the rescue, many types of injuries do not prevent rescue on horseback. This cuts recovery time and reduces the number of rescuers needed, since the subject does not have to be carried out of the field on a litter. As the horse component of an overall team effort, radio relays can be quickly stationed and trails quickly checked and blocked if needed. Six 40 lb backpacks can be carried on a large pack horse if required, leaving foot searchers more mobile and not as prone to exhaustion.
Comparable to Dogs?
While not comparable to dogs for their air-scent capability, horses are quite aware of their surroundings and will alert to anything out of the ordinary, thus warning their rider who may be looking the other direction.
Horses are not prone to hypothermia and can make signifigant time in severe weather, high winds, and even snowy conditions, preventing the searcher form getting wet when crossing streams.
Search & Rescue horses are trained not to react to unusual or loud noises like motor vehicles, dogs, people, aircraft, sirens, etc.