Washington, D.C. - October 24, 2008 - The Humane Equine Aid and Rapid Transport (HEART) Equine Ambulance has been on the show grounds at the Washington International Horse Show this year as a precaution for any accidents that may occur during the week of competition. The ambulance, which is kept right outside of the arena at all times, gives riders a sense of security knowing that if anything were ever to happen to their horse during the horse show, they would be immediately cared for.
Tony Hitchcock, who is on the Board of Directors and Treasurer of HEART, has been very invested in helping people understand the importance of such a service and hopes to see its continued expansion throughout some of the country's top horse shows in the coming years.
Hitchcock feels very strongly about how important the HEART service is to the horse show world. He said, "It is always important from the horse care viewpoint, but from the human aspect, when you are in a confined arena and a horse gets injured, every eye is watching in a way that is very painful and it just somehow makes it seem even worse."
"Having a crew that can come in with all of the right equipment depending on the nature of the horse's injury and get that horse comfortably into the trailer and then taken to the nearest equine veterinary care center can make all the difference," Hitchcock continued. "A lot of times it makes all the difference in terms of saving the horse's life, and at the very least, providing the equine athlete comfort."
HEART always has someone on the grounds when the competition is going on and then in the off hours they usually have someone on-call sleeping on or very near the grounds. "We always work with the management to make sure that we get hotel rooms that are just minutes away," Hitchcock said. "We are always very close and the ambulance is always poised and ready to go, pointed in the right direction so that we can be in and out as fast as possible."
HEART was brought to the WIHS with the encouragement of Board member Nita Blundon, whose daughter's tragic experience with her horse at the Hampton Classic this year was handled very professionally and compassionately by the HEART team. During a Low Junior Jumper class at the show, Lucy Blundon's horse, Mr. Incredible (Elmo), landed off a jump and suffered an irreparable break in his leg. HEART medics were in the ring within minutes to treat the horse and were able to splint his leg and get him back to the barn for a veterinarian's examination, but the damage was too severe, and the horse ultimately had to be humanely euthanized.
After such a heartbreaking experience, both Lucy and Nita Blundon sincerely appreciate HEART and how well they dealt with the situation. The Blundons now strongly support the program and stress how important it is to have such a service at every show. As a result of her experience, Nita Blundon decided that it was essential for the Washington International Horse Show to have the HEART ambulance here at the show.
"HEART is so professional and the ambulance is state of the art; as good as it can get," Nita Blundon said. "It was just really nice because we were able to take care of the worst tragedy that you can imagine if you own a horse or love a horse in a very, very dignified and professional manner."
Before the tragedy with her horse, Blundon admits that she had not thought much about equine ambulances. "I have to say that I thought more about the rescue squad for the riders, but not too much about the equine ambulance," she said. "I think I would see them and just go, 'Oh that's a good idea' and just kind of go on, but after this I can't imagine going to a horse show that doesn't have one."
"I think that any exhibitor would be happy to pay another $5 on a horse show bill to have the ambulance there and to have that comfort," she continued. "In our case it was the worst case scenario, we lost our horse, but in other times it could be just that top notch emergency care that could make the difference in the long run recovery if you had an accident where recovery is possible."
Lucy Blundon is still competing in the jumpers and although it took her awhile to move on from the accident, she is forever grateful for the care that HEART provided. "I was just really impressed," she said. "They knew exactly what to do and they were very professional. They got him out of the ring as fast as they could, and he was always comfortable. Nothing they did ever scared me."
"I honestly do not even know what I would have done if HEART had not been there to help us," Blundon said. "I really encourage people to donate to HEART because even if you think that was a freak accident and it won't happen to you, really anyone can be in that situation at any time. It is really important to have an ambulance available at all times."
For more information about the HEART equine ambulance, please visit http://www.equineambulance.com
Photo Credit: The HEART Equine Ambulance and Medic Laurie Delalla at the Washington International Horse Show. Photo (C) 2008 Lauren Fisher/PMG. This photo may be used free of charge only in relation to this press release.
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/humane-equine-aid-rapid-transport-washington-horse-10-08.html">Humane Equine Aid and Rapid Transport (HEART) Equine Ambulance at the 2008 Washington International Horse Show</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com