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Dr. Tomas Gimenez retires at the top of his field

Published: 9/14/2012
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By Maddy Butcher Gray

We’d all like to improve the lives of horses. For most of us, that means making sure our own horses are well-cared for and safe. Once in a while, we can reach out and do right for other horses, too

But Dr. Tomas Gimenez has inarguably improved the lives of thousands of horses. And thanks to him, thousands of future horses will survive and thrive, too.
Dr. Gimenez retires later this year from his position as primary instructor at Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue, Inc., an operation he founded 17 years ago with his now ex-wife Dr. Rebecca Gimenez.
Originally from Mexico, Gimenez studied in Sweden and Germany before rising as a professor emeritus at Clemson University, in South Carolina.
He has a keen, quiet sense of humor, loves having exactly the right tool for the job, and is passionate and animated about saving large animals in disaster situations.
Those interests in horses and gadgetry helped fuel a wealth of innovations in the large animal rescue field.

Horse stuck in mud?

Tangled in brush?

Fallen through bridge and into swift water?

Trapped in an interstate highway rollover?

If responders to these scenarios had the just right equipment, chances are Dr. Gimenez developed it. If the responders didn’t have the right equipment, but still rescued the horses quickly, efficiently, and safely, Dr. Gimenez had a hand in training them.

[Not all of his equipment was technical. At right, Gimenez protects a horse's eye with a bra.]

I took two TLAER courses. I learned it’s pretty easy to kill a horse with a bad rescue attempt. It’s pretty easy to get hurt in the process, too.
Click for more articles on large animal rescue.

One of the most significant aspects of his legacy is getting large animal rescue legit. Fewer imperiled horses will have to rely on a bunch of Good Sams trying to jerry rig a rescue. And fewer horses will die because the firemen didn't know squat about equine behavior.

It’s now a heavy rescue specialty, a field which has grown to “encompass global training efforts and recommended equipment for disaster and emergency preparedness, prevention and response,” said a recent TLAER press release.

In 2014, TLAER methods, procedures, and equipment recommendations will join the standards promulgated by the National Fire Protection Association.
His last public training will be in December 7-9, 2012 at the brand new International TLAER Training Facility in Gray, Georgia.

Thanks, Tomas, for the passion, commitment, and ingenuity you brought to the horse world. You’ve made it a better place.

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9/14/2012 Rebecca Gimenez
Maddy - this was heartfelt, beautiful, and made me cry. I am THE most fortunate person to have had Tomas in my life as my major professor, friend, husband, ex-husband, and life long mentor. He is passionate in his work about ONE THING - that is animals, especially horses, and their care. Everything he has done in his work at Clemson for over 32 years, and with TLAER, has been for the ANIMALS, and teaching people to understand them in these scenarios. It has never been about himself or anyone else. He is the genuine educator, and I personally have learned so much from him. Thank you for a beautiful article.
9/14/2012 Patricia Jensen
I'm an older person who got her first horse quite a number of years ago at 57. No. I wasn't crazy, I wanted to fulfil a dream. Through mutual friends, I met Dr. Rebecca Gimenez. There were many, many times that she explained and showed me "howto" with horses. Thank you Rebecca. I don't know Dr. Tomas quite as well, but I attended a horse rescue clinic that he taught--it was excellent. Both horses and people are very fortunate to have such people as Rebecca and Tomas in this world.
1/4/2013 Pat Gillespie
What a beautifully written piece!! I am honored to have met the man and you nailed it!! Thank you for this timely article!!

"No horseman or horsewoman has ever finished learning" - Mary Gordon-Watson