Equine Search Assist Team (ESAT)
Arrowsmith Search and Rescue is one of only a few SAR groups in B.C. to have an Equine Search Assist Team or ESAT. ESAT is not a "stand-alone unit", but forms part of and works in conjunction with the Ground Search Team. Most of the team's human members are Ground Search and Rescue qualified or are "Members in Training". We also have a few "Resource Members" who have completed a local 20 hour Equine Search Assistance Course. All of the equine members must complete an Equine Basic Requirements Evaluation, using the Equine Performance Evaluation Checklist to ensure they are a safe and competent mount.
As an immediate response team, ESAT can respond day or night to search either back country or urban areas. Working in teams of 2, 3 or 4, an Equine Team can search a large area quickly and effectively using both the rider's and horse's sense of sight, sound and smell. The rider's eyes and ears are quite a bit higher than an unmounted searcher, allowing them to see further and hear better. As a bonus, the equine partner is extremely aware of their surroundings and excels at using their senses to detect anything out of the ordinary and communicating this to their human partner through body language. Recently, some members of ESAT have begun training their equine partners to detect humans using "air scenting" techniques, much like a Search Dog (see K9 Team for description of Air Scenting). While there is no Equine Air Scenting Validation Process in North America, some ESAT members have received training in this technique from Terry Nowacki, of Equine Detection Services, Minnesota, U.S.A. The Equine Search Assistance Team currently consists of 12 members.