Young horses train outside North Bay to assist in search and rescue operations
Four young horses of the Ontario Mounted Special Services Unit were put to work at a farm in Trout Creek Saturday as they learn to track down certain scents.
Dr. Julie Corkett has the equine training in order to assist in search and rescue operations.
The horses worked hard for a few hours learning how to find scents from all different areas at a farm in Trout Creek, 40 minutes south of North Bay.
The horses range from three years to 16-years-old and they’re all in the beginning phase of their scent training.
“We start off very basic with having them just hit a target with their nose that has a scent on it. Then we slowly increase the distance, said Corkett.
“The trick with horses unlike dogs is getting them motivated, so for us we motivate with food.”
The Ontario Mounted Special Service Unit is a group of volunteers with horses who assist in community search and rescue if needed.
Search and rescue operations conducted using cent trained horses is common in Western Canada but it’s something Corkett said she hopes will become more popular in Ontario.
“Areas that we could be very beneficial is when there are searches in corn fields,” she said.
“Dogs and people have a hard time doing searches in corn fields, where horses have a natural ability and won’t be as bothered.”
The Ontario Mounted Special Services Unit doesn’t just train horses for search and rescues. They’re encouraging people to get their horse ‘scent trained’ as a way to bond with the animal and to participate in new sports.
“The air scenting will be a new sport next year. We will also have a new sport which is trail companion, which you will compete with your horse and your dog,” said Corkett.
“Their role is to find the scent to find the missing target.”
According to Corkett any type of horse can become scent trained. She told CTV News most horses can track a scent from more than a kilometre away once fully trained.