By Christina Wood, a military culture writer
Maj. Rebecca Gimenez Husted, USAR (Ret), grew up with horses and had always been interested in their behavior. She explored different aspects of the horse industry — from journalism to business management — while pursuing a career in the U.S. Army Reserve, which included a deployment to Kuwait and Iraq and serving with HQ, U.S. Southern Command in Miami. She also earned a doctorate in animal physiology in 1997.
But it was after she realized support was almost nonexistent for veterinary professionals and first responders answering emergency calls involving large animals that her equine interests and military background came together to provide a foundation for the much-needed training.
“[It’s] basically, the same concept as tactical combat care but for horses,” said the 28-year veteran, who retired in 2016. Husted, a sought-after international expert and speaker, is the owner and president of Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue (TLAER) Inc.
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The company’s mission is teaching safe extrication of live large animals in local emergencies and disaster areas, such as overturned trailers, mud, ice, barn fires, etc.
In a nutshell, “I teach firefighters and veterinarians about how to get horses out of all the god-awful places they get into,” she said.
TLAER offers training throughout the U.S. as well as internationally for emergency response services, such as fire departments, rescue squads, law enforcement agencies, emergency management, county and state emergency response teams, and animal control officers. The company also offers consulting for departments and organizations trying to put together a large animal rescue program.
Husted keeps busy with these trainings and speaking engagements on the topic, and she has no problem getting the attention of her audiences.
“It doesn’t hurt that I’m 6-foot-2 and about 220 pounds, and I’ve got a deep voice — that’s the effect of all those years in the military,” she said. “It’s the public speaking; it’s the always being out in front of troops.”
She also answers many phone calls regarding animal emergencies.
“These days, with the capability of smartphones, they can send me a picture or a video, and in five seconds, I can tell them a better way to do it,” she said. “I’ll do the best that I can do for the welfare of the animal.”
Christina Wood is a military culture writer.