HorseOwnerToday had the privilege to talk with MaryAnne Leighton, author of Equine Emergency Rescue. www.equineER.com. MaryAnne Leighton has a lifelong love affair with horses and the written word. She is a horsewoman and established author, features writer, editor and proofreader. She writes biography and non-fiction and her extensive experience in the horse world allows her to write with authority for equine publications worldwide.
MaryAnne has had careers in public relations, marketing and horse stud management. She bred horses for twenty years – both her own national champions and for studs that ranged in size from two stallions and twenty mares to seven stallions and four hundred mares. She has travelled extensively and, apart from horse-related themes, has written about subjects as diverse as the European Space Agency, the use of computer systems within an abattoir and the intensity of the darkness in the bowels of Mt Isa mine.
In 2006 she was commissioned to write Living the Legend: the Ian Francis Story, the biography of one of the world’s most accomplished horsemen that sells not only in Australia but through Clinton Anderson’s Downunder Horsemanship in the USA.
MaryAnne’s home has always been a sanctuary for aged, infirm, injured and abandoned animals and her passion for the plight of horses that are injured or killed during rescue from entrapment lead her to publish Equine Emergency Rescue in November 2010. This book is proving a life-saver with members of Australian SES and RSPCA and horse owners around the world.
1. Tell HorseOwnerToday.com about the events that started your journey to write Equine Emergency Rescue?
Back in 2008, in the space of only seven days I read two newspaper articles about horses in different countries that fell into septic tanks. The first died from injuries he received during his 'rescue', the second was able to be lifted out and survived. Apart from the fact they should not have had access to the tanks, I thought there had to be a better way to get them
rescuing horses from life-threatening situations, contacted all the people I could find and bought two books (Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue and Save Your Horse) written by American authors. Both are brilliant but I thought if I was writing my own book I'd do it a little differently.
When I decided to write my own guide for Aussie horse owners, equine vets and emergency responders, I was absolutely blown away by the support I received from around the world. Experts in the UK, Europe and the USA answered all my lengthy questions, helped me write guidelines for vets who are called to rescue scenes, and sent photos of training events and actual rescues. Michelle Staples, author of Save Your Horse www.saveyourhorse.com , very generously offered me her manuscript and photos, telling me to use them any way I wanted. I rewrote her book, added three new sections, changed the format turning it from a black and white publication to a full colour glossy book and added Michelle as co-author.
In November 2010 I invited American rescue trainer Rebecca Gimenez www.tlaer.org to Australia to launch Equine Emergency Rescue at Equitana (Australasia's biggest horse expo) and while she was here she conducted three one-day Large Animal Rescue awareness courses for owners, vets, RSPCA Inspectors and a few emergency responders.
Within two months, Equine Emergency Rescue had been taken up as the training manual for all Large Animal Emergency Rescue training courses in Australia and within 10 months the first print run had all but sold out.
2. You are an obvious horse “lifer”. I have read your on-line descriptions and pictures from Equine Emergency Rescue. I am a horse “lifer” as well, growing up on the farm, with a clear understanding that if you have livestock you have dead stock. I found many of your photos presented on-line difficult to look at. Equine Emergency Rescue strikes me as being a difficult book to write, perhaps even a very emotional journey. Can you tell HorseOwnerToday.com about the difficulties you faced researching, compiling and finally writing Equine Emergency Rescue?
I probably find rescues and the resultant photos less confronting than most people, due to my background. For 20 years I managed horse studs, with up to seven stallions, 400 mares and 200 foals born each year. When you work with so many horses, continually you are presented with challenging and gut-wrenching situations - after all, the horse is an accident waiting to happen and he is always more than willing to demonstrate his ability to get into trouble. My greatest difficulty was finding the money to publish Equine Emergency Rescue myself.
3. What type of people dedicate themselves to Equine Emergency Rescue?
Those who, like yourself, are passionate about horses and even more passionate about keeping rescuers and victims safe.
4. Tell HorseOwnerToday.com about your goal, your purpose that you wish to achieve by writing Equine Emergency Rescue?
My goal is to keep rescuers safe and prevent them causing serious injuries or even death to the animals they are trying to rescue.
Because we have been able to draw on the vast experience of animal rescue specialists in the UK and USA, I believe we will progress Large Animal Rescue in Australia much faster than they did. Even though Large Animal Rescue has been taught in the USA for 20 years, less than 1% of that country's emergency responders are trained in these techniques. It is dramatically better in the UK where two specialists from Hampshire Fire and Rescue trained in the US in 2003 and now, eight years later, almost every unit in the UK has an animal rescue capability and equine and bovine vets are routinely trained in LAR techniques and the technicalities of sedating and anesthetising a trapped large animal.
Within five years I hope we will be where the UK is and am pleased to say we are well on the way. I see my function as being to promote rescue in the media and support those who train our emergency responders and equine vets. Equine Veterinarians Australia is already scheduling regular courses for its members and their clients, we have held our first 'train the trainer' workshop, all RSPCA Inspectors (who are called to large animal rescues in this country) in the states of New South Wales and Queensland have attended training courses and now know what to do, and we have held awareness courses for horse owners, racing staff, stock inspectors, biosecurity officers and others.
At Equitana Sydney in November 2011 our first animal rescue team will demonstrate rescue techniques with the help of "Bruce" the training mannequin, we will talk about upcoming training courses and I will have rescue training equipment there for people to handle and buy. They will also be able to buy my book, Equine Emergency Rescue found at http://www.equineER.com