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North Texas Mounted Search and Rescue holds membership drive

Imagine an elderly man or child getting lost in the woods and a mounted search-and-rescue team is called on to help in the search. If you like adventure and are a skilled trail rider, you and your horse may be valuable assets to the newly formed North Texas Search and Rescue team!

What makes an ideal search horse! As a “prey” animal, horses have heightened sensory skills such as ground vibration, and can detect threats that may be downwind. They use their eyes and ears and they listen, see and feel! Good communication between horse and rider is established when the horse expresses themselves to the their rider!

Develop Your Skills

Skills we will be developing or learning include things like…

• Trail-riding safety. It’s important for each rider to make sure that they help keep themselves and their horse out of trouble to ensure that they continue to be an active resource for the search team.

• In-saddle conditioning. It’s not necessary to be a perfect rider, but it is important to be in condition to endure long hours in the saddle and to remain alert and effective. Also, you will want to learn what safe, comfortable, and protective clothing and gear is necessary.

• Communications. We will utilize and familiarize each member with the latest communications and incident-command systems.

We will utilize and familiarize each member with the latest communications and incident-command systems.

• Navigational skills. Training also includes developing navigational expertise, how to use GPS (global positioning system), a compass, and maps while in the field.

• Tracking. Mock searches will be set up to train members in how to track and detect valuable clues in the field.

• First-aid. A vital part of search and rescue is learning First Aid for both humans and horses. We will have skilled medical, EMS and equine experts provide courses on various subjects.

• Horse camping. Become an experienced equestrian camper learning skills in trailering, camping and caring for your horse while in the field.

• Organization. Being part of a like-minded group of riders forms an effective organization and increases the chances for success. Imagine that feeling of helping to find that lost person and helping them to get home safe and sound! Imagine if that was your loved one!

Cultivate Your Horse

Horses used for search and rescue are cultivated. Here are some ways in which we will help you in building your horse to become a better search partner.

• Develop trust. Mutual trust is essential! Trust is what makes your horse your partner! You and your horse establish a one-on-one relationship. Your horse is in a strange and unknown environment and is unpredictable. This makes both you and your horse more tense. Having that trust between you is paramount in order to maintain focus on the task at hand.

• Listen to your horse. Horses point out things that don’t fit like unusual sights and sounds. They are excellent observers about changes in landscape from the last time they were in an area. They will always alert you of game, a flock of birds, or other activity on a trail.

• Pack up. Always pack all your gear whether you’re on a training mission or a real search. This way, your horse will know it’s not simply a recreational outing. Your horse will learn that this serious approach will cue them that this is serious business.

• Selecting the right tack. Your horse needs to be comfortable and allowed to move freely. This means you want to avoid a heavy bridle or tie-down that restricts movement. Ride bitless if you’re comfortable with this. A proper fitting saddle is essential for both you and your horse so that if your horse reacts to something, you’re able to stay with them. Also, a properly fitted saddle help keep the horse focused on their surroundings.

• Riding for miles. Practice, practice, practice. You will want to develop your own conditioning as well as your horse’s. Go out and ride trails, fields and ride miles at a walk. Let your horse pick their own footing and that you trust them to follow a trail without direction. Let them put their head down to smell or taste the ground, or raise their head to smell the air. You will learn to let the horse watch the trail so that you can better watch for clues.

• Trail obstacles. Each search and rescue comes with its own set of criteria, but while out you will encounter a variety of “obstacles” that can cause your horse to become frightened. This is another part of trail safety training and “bomb proofing” your horse to the unexpected.

A highly valued mounted search and rescue team member learns how to read their horse’s body language and notes what they are paying attention to. It’s essential to acknowledge and encourage them with a “good boy” and a light stroke on their neck each time they alert you to something unusual. Learning how to detect your horse’s slightest reactions helps you to become an effective mounted searcher.


My name is Sandra Dobbs, I am a long time resident of Sanger, Texas and have a passion for all things equestrian. With Gail Williams we have in the preceding years discovered we had a mutual interest in Mounted Search and Rescue (MSAR) and starting a local MSAR unit. Since then we have been working toward those goals. We had begun training with an initial focus on bomb proofing our horses using sensory training techniques.

More recently I have met a fellow enthusiast Jan Geisen and related that our unit was attempting to promote MSAR drills and services to our area. I am glad to share that Jan has actually started the 1st MSAR unit in Jackson County, Oregon. I am delighted to say that she is on board to help make our unit just as successful.

Now we are ready to add like minded riders with an excitement for developing and honing the advanced equestrian skills that MSARs demands. We already have some very good folks who bring a lot of knowledge in diverse and essential areas, and we want to announce and include you during this team building drive as we feel this will be of great interest to a wide range of riders.

When and where

We meet twice a month on the 1st Sunday from 3-5pm and the 3rd Monday from 6-8pm at Jim-A-Dee Ranch, 9494 Waide Rd, Sanger, TX, 76266. However, the location may change from time to time as we begin field training.

If you would like to be added to our group notifications “text” Margaret Rabbitt at 214-415-5527 with your a text stating “Search and Rescue” and your full name, cell number and email address.


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