Sharon Kenney Pomeroy knew that when her unit’s Maine Mounted Search and Rescue horses found a cadaver-scented dummy after search dogs passed it by, her horses would come into the spotlight.
“That was the turning point for our unit, it gives me chills to think about it.” Pomeroy said.
On call for the Maine Warden Service, the team of about 14 members stretches across the state from southern Maine to as far north as LaGrange. They provide a mounted search and rescue unit capable of assisting in the location of lost, abducted or missing persons throughout Maine.
While the team does receive some donations, it doesn’t come without a cost to the volunteer team. Expenses can become hefty because of the long distances traveled to search areas with heavy trailers, horses and gear in tow.
“We can easily, each of us, spend over $200 to get to a search,” said Pomeroy.
Despite operating cost and time, Pomeroy says the horses are well-suited for the job.
According to Pomeroy, since horses are prey animals, their senses are heightened and will notice other things in the woods a rider might overlook. They allow riders to sit higher and gain a more effective sweep width. Riders can see 40 to 50 feet into the woods on both sides, which is much higher than on foot.
They also free up the searchers to pay more attention to what’s in the woods, rather that where they’ll make their next step.
“The horse is our partner, not just our ride.” said Pomeroy.