Below are some of the emergency incidents, service calls, transports, event stand-bys, and training programs that 4HFES and NCSMART, LLC has been involved with over the years.  Additional photos and videos can be view on the individual FaceBook groups and pages.  


While we were making our way back from KY/TN on a horse transport a local vet and friend of ours called requesting assistance with a horse down in a trailer. Fortunately, this vet had previously attended a TLAER (Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue) course that we organized several years ago.

It "takes a village" for sure as we could not do what we do and provide the services that we provide without the dedication, experience, and endless support from our friends and equine industry professionals!

We put out a text page to some of our associate team members who are trained and experienced in large animal rescue for any available people to respond and assist with this rescue.

Several of the members responded. Prior to everyone's arrival we received a message from one of them on scene that the horse was up and everyone not on location could cancel the response.

So proud to call our "team" our friends and family... couldn't do it without them and wouldn't want to either! Our relationship with them is priceless.

Today we helped save the life of a BIG gentle soul... George the Draft!

A local vet got a call from a client whose draft horse was down in the pasture and unable to stand on his hind end. The pasture was in Robbins NC (Moore County), about an hour or so from our place.

The horse was about 15yrs old and had no health problems except some arthritis and he was perfectly fine yesterday but laid down today and was unable to get back up.

Due to an error with the phone number of the owner, our response was delayed by a few hours as we had called the wrong number that was provided to us and left messages for the owner to call so we could see if our assistance would be needed. We received no calls back until the vet called and said the owner of the horse called and wanted to know how much longer it would be before we arrived, we hadn't even started to head that way since we never heard back from the owner...this is when the error was discovered. So, with that, we were on our way!

The horse had been down most of the day and the owners had been trying to keep him cool and calm and although they knew they probably could get him up they were hesitant because they didn't know how to do it without possibly injuring him further so they called the vet who called us.

When we arrived we rolled him over onto his good side using the cast-roll technique and put the head-carry in place to help protect the downside eye. We then put webbing straps in place and attempted to assist him to stand using the simple forward assist webbing configuration and a supportive butt strap but he could not get beyond a dog-sitting position and on the last try he slipped the webbing over his withers, onto his neck, and out of position. The webbing was then reconfigured to a Swiss-seat configuration and again it was attempted several times to assist him to stand to no avail. A larks-foot configuration was not used because of the concern with it tightening up around his chest and with his weight we may not be able to release it quickly and easily. He would sit sternal and dog-sit with assistance but could not make it any further. It was decided that we would try to sling him since he was still bright alert, eating grass around him when sternal, and had been extremely calm and accepting of everything done so far without any flailing or sedation.

During this time in between attempts to get him to stand and waiting on the vet to arrive we, along with the owners friends and family that were there, hosed and scraped him off to try to keep him from overheating and offered him water.

The vet arrived. It was decided that he would not be sedated for the lift based on his behavior, prior training, and current condition. The owners family had an excavator on the farm that was available for the lift. The vet administered some steroids prior to the lift. The Becker Sling was positioned on the recumbent horse with the chest and butt straps and the lift was made. He was quickly upright and stood on his own within minutes without any issues. We allowed him to remain in the sling for a couple of minutes since he was calm and as a precaution in case he started to go down again. He walked a couple of steps while in the sling, which made the angle undesirable, and we didn't want to ask him to back up right away so we disconnected him from the spreadbar and left the sling on just in case for a few more minutes. After about 10 minutes of standing strong without support the sling was removed and he was allowed to be led around a bit and was offered some food and water.

He had some abrasions on his face but other than that he was not visibly injured from the ordeal.

He was released in his pasture where he walked around and received treats, scratches and hugs from his owners and their friends and family who were there throughout the day.

Hot and humid day for a horse rescue... 100 degrees heat index with 65% humidity. We received a call at approximately 9:30 in the morning for a horse stuck in the mud/ditch in Aberdeen NC (Moore County).

While enroute someone on-scene sent us a pic of what appeared to be a horse recumbent, cast in a ditch area that was in the pasture. We were told this was an older mare and had a history of lameness issues and that the owner was out of state at the time and there was a caretaker with the horse. They said a vet was called and was on standby to respond if needed. We knew the vet so I called her to let her know we'd were on the way and would give her an assessment when we arrived.

We arrived about 10:30 and there were two men and the female caretaker there. The caller, one of the guys, said that he had talk to the vet since I had spoken to her and told her to go ahead and respond given the horses condition.

We surveyed the situation and found a mare down in a ditch, legs partially angled up the side embankment, increased respiratory rate and sweating profusely. She was still struggling from time to time and the female caretaker was at her head trying to limit any further injury. The caretaker last saw the horse about 5pm yesterday at feeding time and found her in the ditch this morning when she arrived so she called for neighbors to help her. It was unknown how long the mare was in the ditch. There were no signs of a struggle or indentations of hoofprints on the bank of the ditch to indicate she might have laid down and rolled in accidentally. The ditch was there as an overflow for a nearby pond.

We devised a Plan A and Plan B then I immediately grabbed a helmet for the female that was in the ditch with the horse. One of the guys there had a skid steer so we sent him to get that because we were going to need it.

The vet arrived soon after we did. We have known her for a long time and she had attending one of the large animal technical rescue courses we hosted in Hope Mills a few years ago with TLAER, Inc. When she got out of her vehicle the first thing she asked was if we had a helmet for her to wear (YEAH!! - We are huge supporters of veterinarians wearing helmets) because she had left hers at home because she just took it out of her truck a few days ago and didn't put it back.

The vet assessed the horse... heart rate was 80, temp was still not too hot to recover if everything else was good so upon speaking with the owner it was decided to attempt a rescue. (If euthanasia was chosen as the way to proceed the horse would have been euthanized in the ditch then removed as the humane option for the horse instead of stressing the horse with the rescue only to euthanize immediately upon removing it from the ditch). The vet was hopeful that if we could get the mare out and get her sternal rather quickly that we could recover her if she would try to stand.

We gathered equipment, the vet sedated the already exhausted horse, and Plan A was put into motion. We used a LARRCo glide and slip sheet, a LARGE slip sheet, Becker 15ft webbing straps, LARRCo Head Carry, HAST spreadbar, and miscellaneous other rope, straps, and gear.

We placed the head carry to protect the downside eye and the vet placed a towel over the exposed eye. I used our battery operated saw-z-all (never leave home without it) to cut a pine sapling, with a 4 inch trunk, out of the way and we placed the LARGE slip sheet along the length of the horses backside and the LARRCo slip sheet upright between the green sheet and the bank to cover the exposed trunk of the pine sapling just cut. Straps were flossed in placed for a sideways drag configuration. The spreadbar was attached to the skid steer to keep the straps pulling evenly. Tag lines were placed on the slip sheet to move the slip sheet with the horse as the horse was pulled out of the ditch. Justin directed the skid steer operator and on the vets count since she had control of the head, the horse was pulled from the ditch and about 20ft away. We were going to put a tent up for shade to recover her but it was decided to move her closer to the water hose we stretched out to cool her off.

We pulled the horse sideways off the slip sheet onto the LARRCo glide for relocation. Straps were not needed as the mare was still exhausted and sedated. We supported keeping her on the glide with the use of the straps already in place and manpower just to keep her from sliding off. The skid steer was used to pull the horse to the shade under some pine trees. The horse was flipped over to the "good side" off the glide and the cooling process began. She was hosed and scraped for quite a while. She made a few attempts to stand but never was able to even get in a sternal position, even with assistance.

The vet spoke to the owner and given the age and history of lameness with the horse coupled with the current situation and potential for the horse to go down again it was determined that euthanasia was the best option.

The rescue and euthanasia were completed by 11:30-11:45.

We assisted the caretaker with making arrangements for burial on their farm since she did not have any known resources in the area.

We have been hired by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington, Kentucky on more than one occassion to instruct a large animal technical rescue course to their staff and interns, local veterinary professionals, Kentucky Horse Park staff, HEART Equine Ambulance staff, and local emergency responders.  The interactive training courses offer audio-visual lecture and discussion as well as a wide variety of realistic equine related emergency incidents with hands-on rescue operations that are performed in real time with real world distractions, hazards, obstacles, complications, and considerations.    
Below is a video of an emergency incident that we were requested by Animal Control to assist with.  The incident involved a horse that was being hauled in an older model two horse trailer and had fallen through the floor while going down the road.  The fire department, animal control, a veterinarian, and NC SMART responded.
We were contacted to assist with a horse trailer motor vehicle accident that had occurred approximately 5hrs away, on Interstate 40 in Black Mountain area of NC.  A truck hauling a large stock trailer was forced off the roadway by a hydroplaning vehicle.  The truck and trailer, containing 3 wild mustangs just adopted at a BLM auction, went plummeting down the mountainside.  We were not in a position to respond due to distance and travel time and the inaccessibility to the scene due to traffic backups on the mountain so we opted to do what we could to assist over the phone.  We contacted resources with large animal rescue training that were closer to the area to see if they could respond to offer assistance as well as contacted people that were onscene to provide advice and reassurance.  All 5 passengers of the truck made it out with minor injuries and all 3 mustangs survived with minor injuries and have gone on to live a good life with the family who adopted them at the auction.   
Responded to a mud rescue in Harnett County, NC.  The horse was a rescued aged gelding in a body condition score of a 3.   He had been stuck for an undetermined amount of time but it was greater than 8 hours upon our arrival.  A veterinarian was onscene for treatment during and after the rescue.  The horse was removed from the mud but was too weak to stand after several attempts with assistance and was humanely euthanized.
Assisted Southeast Llama Rescue in relocating several unhandled llamas that were surrendered by their owner.  Our containment fencing was used to channel the llamas from a the holding area to the awaiting trailers. from a pasture into a trailer for transport to a foster home.
Responded 2 1/2 hours away to a horse that was down in a muddy area and could not get back up.  The horse had been having some neurologic issues and had gotten down and could not stand back up unassisted. The horse had been down for several hours prior to us being contacted.  The owner's husband was a small animal vet and had been consulting with their equine veterinarian over the phone.  We arrived to find a Clydesdale mare down on her side in a muddy area, but not stuck in the mud.  We applied webbing straps and using a tractor performed a sideways drag to more stable, dry ground.  We cast rolled the horse and hosed her off on both sides to help cool her temperature.  The owner's husband administered sedation and we placed the mare on the glide and secured her for relocation using a tractor to our transport trailer.  The horse was transported to NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine - Veterinary Teaching Hospital and was monitored on the trailer camera system the entire way.  About half way the mare began to struggle a bit on the glide as the sedation was wearing off so we stopped at a rest area and the owner's husband who was following us stopped to administer some more sedation.  The mare, under sedation, had already broke three of our hobbles used for securing a horses legs when placing them on the glide so we were concerned that she would struggle and free her legs again which would have been a bad situation.  Approximately 10-15 minutes away from the veterinary hospital the mare passed away.  Upon our arrival at NCSU CVM the owner's husband spoke to the vet's and then asked us if we would transport her back to their farm 3 hours away so she could be laid to rest.  It was an extremely long day but we were glad we could be there to assist, we just wish we would have been contacted sooner and the outcome would have been different.
Assisting NC State Highway Patrol with loose cattle on the roadway.  Cattle were calmy and safely herded off the roadway and behind a DOT roadway fence.  Eventually the herd was relocated back to their pasture.
Assisting the United States Equine Rescue League with a mare and foal, both victims of a neglect case.  Mare laid down and was unable to stand.  Several attempts were made to lift her with no success. The mare was humanely euthanized and the foal was transported to a critical care rehab foster barn.