Equine Rescue Techniques

What is ERT?

Equine Rescue Techniques (ERT) is a horse-training course offered by Trail Riders of DuPage for first responders, typically police and fire departments. In the past 15 years TROD has trained more than 800 emergency personnel. To contact TROD about ERT e-mail ERT@trod.us.

The Origin of ERT

ERT began in response to a highway accident with a horse trailer. The horse had its legs stuck inside the side windows of the trailer. The firefighters on the scene planned to use a large wrecker to upright the trailer and then remove the horse. The rescuers did not want to injure the animal, but they simply did not know what to do.

The ERT course was created  in 1994. The course primarily focuses on emergencies with loaded trailers in traffic accidents and is presented to area emergency personnel—police and fire departments.

In October of 2007, there was an accident with a semi truck loaded with 59 horses in Wadsworth, IL. Prior to the accident TROD presented an ERT course at Sunflower Farms in Bristol County Wisconsin, less than ten miles from the scene of the accident.

Hands-on work with horses

The first half of the class teams two students with an instructor and a horse. Students learn to handle their equine partner, halter and lead, improvise halters and navigate obstacles. 

Typical horse behaviors, both relaxed and under stress, are explained and demonstrated. The second pass through the obstacle course is more challenging and gives the students a feel for the quickness and strength a horse commands.

Trailer loading

The second half of the class focuses on horse trailers. Students are given a chance to climb around and inspect a variety of trailer types from the smaller two-horse to long-distance semi-tractor rigs.

Key discussion points include construction and destruction of trailers, how to approach and investigate the trailer and what you should and should not do until the vet arrives.


Each participating department receives a resource guide for their dispatch desk which covers: (1) the course material (2) lists of large animal veterinarians and emergency stables by location and (3) emergency haulers.

The course has received wide acceptance from police, fire and animal rescue communities. The Equine Rescue Techniques is being taught across the country by other organizations (initially trained by TROD) that recognize its benefit.


For further information please email ERT@trod.us.

ERT Article Links

ERT Clinic Instructs First Responders: How to Handle Equine Emergencies

First responders learn about animal accidents

Click to View the ERT U Tube Video

“WARNING. Under the Equine Activity Liability Act, each participant who engages in an equine activity expressly assumes the risks of engaging in and legal responsibility for injury, loss, or damage to person or property resulting from the risk of equine activities.”