Equine lecturer and behaviourist Laura Pannewitz is running an animal-handling course in conjunction with the Devon and Somerset Fire & Rescue Service.

Laura’s two-day courses, a Bicton College in Devon, are intended to teach fire fighters how to deal with horses and farm animals in rescue situations.

“Firefighters are involved in many rescues of both feral and domestic horses,” said Laura. “But sometimes owners do not have any faith in the rescue team sent.

“It creates a more stressful situation for the horse when owners are unwilling to let fire officers do their job.”

So far 150 members of the fire brigade have signed up to learn equine behaviour and handling techniques, which, says Laura, will enable them to manage the rescue situations with confidence and competence.

These officers will form four specialist animal rescue units who can be called to all animal rescues in Devon and Somerset.

A specialist team already is based in Hampshire, and there are plans to extend training to firefighters countrywide.

“There is now a new generation of fire officers who have the skills and equipment to manage all rescue situations,” added Laura.