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Featured image: First responders with OC Fire Authority have been training in equine rescue tactics with the J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center, after rescuing the Shea Center’s therapy horse Choco from being trapped outdoors last summer. Photo: Courtesy of the Shea Center and OC Fire Authority

A San Juan Capistrano-based equine therapy nonprofit has stepped up to help prepare regional authorities for horse rescue measures in the future.

The J.F. Shea Center for Therapeutic Riding hosted equine training for the OC Fire Authority’s Urban Search & Rescue’s team this past week, with approximately 90 first responders attending a session on a given day.

“During the training sessions, the OCFA and The Shea Center will share facts and details about equestrian realities that came out of an OCFA rescue that saved the life of Choco, a Shea Center therapy horse who became trapped in San Juan Capistrano’s open space,” a news release said. “OC fire officials used a helicopter to airlift Choco to safety after digging him out from under concrete and exposed rebar, in an extraordinary and extremely technical horse rescue.”

A reunion was also held to thank the firefighters, veterinarians, and equestrian community members who helped in the rescue.

“Our commitment to provide exceptional emergency support services does not stop with the nearly two million people we serve or the structures in which they live and work,” OC Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy said. “It also includes the pets, service animals, and livestock that bring tremendous value and joy to our communities, and we are proud to partner with The Shea Center to build upon that commitment.”

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