Equine Air Scent Detection / Mounted Air Scent Detection
SAR K-9s find people who are lost by using their noses. Horses can do this too! With their extremely-sensitive noses, huge sinus cavities, a long neck that gives them a wide range of motion to track high scent as well as low scent, and their innate ability to sense threats around them due to the fact that they are prey animals, well-trained Air Scent Detection horses are in fact ideally suited to being deployed as an air scenting resource in a search. It's the rider's responsibility to learn how to interpret what their horse is already communicating, and to teach the horse in what scenarios the horse should take over navigation and go find the scent source.
Over the last 5 years, HISAR members have participated in 3 multi-day clinics with Terry Nowacki, nationally experienced clinician and author of "The Air Scenting Horse" (the first equine scent detection training manual). Terry has years of experience in SAR, training K9s for scent detection and obedience, and training horses in scent detection of live humans as well as cadaver and narcotics. Terry trained the first certified air scent detection horse as well as the first publicly known and proven cadaver and narcotics scent detection horses. His website is www.airscentinghorse.com .
Our members have continued to practice the techniques and methods that Terry taught us. Two of our Mounted team members worked with the Maine Association for Search and Rescue (MASAR) in 2019-2021 to develop the first-ever (that we are aware of) regionally-accepted Mounted Air Scent Team certification standard. Testing has already begun for both teams.
Click here to watch one of our first videos, from 2016 - After only 2 training exercises to "learn the game" Kodak was quickly getting it as did most other horses and riders. Scent is frequently conducted by depressions and watersheds and you may notice the head cast or head swing before they turn towards the viewers' right to follow the scent. When the horse gets scent riders need to give the horse its head and let it follow the scent in. In this case the scent was apparently low to the ground so watch the horse's head. Amazing training evolution and very effective training techniques by Terry Nowacki.