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Horse Community Herds Together as Fires Burn

Aug 24, 2019

Los Angeles/Ventura County Fires  December 7, 2017

I don’t generally go out of my way to speak with my neighbor.  We are from different sides of the track:  She with her leafblower, me with my aversion to the ruckus.  Yet, the fires have me concerned about our horses – she who does not have a trailer may need a hand given that half of Los Angeles County is on fire.
“I’m worried about the fires,” I say as I ride by on my horse.
“Me too,” she replies.
“I’ve hooked up my trailer in case WE need to evacuate,” I reassure her as I klippity-klop along.
A common sense of responsibility breaks the ice.

It is no coincidence that the areas of LA and Ventura counties plagued by the most out-of-control wildfires are all equestrian zoned.   Where horses are kept, drought-stricken fire fuel is found.  And horse people are helping each other in selfless ways.

Just as the most massive fire, nearly 100,000 acres as I write, was burning Santa Paula and Ojai, and another fire was raging in the Shadow Hills, Sunland area, my Equestrian Trials International Corral #36 was convening for their annual Holiday Party at Saddle Peak Lodge in Monte Nido.   Some of the would-be revelers were noticeably absent.
“Dan is transporting horses from the fire zone”,   “Julian is putting out hot-spots in Kagel Canyon”.  “Victoria is at Pierce College volunteering to help horse burn victims.”
Was I the only one at the party feeling guilty that I wasn’t out there hauling horses from the fire zones?

I have “liked” many Facebook pages devoted to the equestrian lifestyle.  I am “friends” with enough horse owners to be our own country.  I see post after post after post of people offering to take-in evacuated horses; folks are opening their hearts and homes to virtual strangers that have in common the concern for an animal’s well-being.   Donations are pouring in to the various sites hoping to help victims with relocation and medical expenses – many of them say they exclusively help the displaced and injured horses.

The tragedy of the fires hit the equestrian community the hardest.  The support amongst the herd of horse owners towards each other is humanity at it’s finest.

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