In New Mexico, a mounted searcher may be asked to ride many miles on a search lasting one operational period (up to 12 hours) in an unfamiliar area on flat, or mountainous terrain, at temperatures between 10 - 110 °F, at an altitude between 3,000 and 10,000 feet. This means that a searcher must be prepared for anything! Mounted searchers must also be prepared to hike for several miles in the event of an injured animal, or to stay overnight in the backcountry if necessary.
Horse and mules of all sizes, shapes, and colors are eligible to participate in NM Mounted SAR. Owners are responsible for ensuring that their animals are healthy and fit for strenuous Search and Rescue missions. Additionally, each animal must pass an annual evaluation of its ability to be safe and obedient under stressful situations. An animal that cannot pass the evaluation may not be cleared to participate in some SAR missions.
New Mexico has one of the few Search and Rescue (SAR) programs organized at the State level. The State passed the NM SAR Act (NMSA 1978, 24-15A-1 to 24-15A-6, et seq.) in 1978, and the NM SAR Plan was developed to implement the Act. The Field Certification process is a result of a requirement in both the SAR Act and Plan.
Additionally, Mounted SAR conducts training throughout the year to prepare our volunteers and animals to respond to emergencies.