Horse Owners Unite in Santa Ynez Valley to Plan for Emergencies | Local News

Equine Emergency Preparedness Expo held Saturday draws approximately 75 people

A plastic horse in a harness stands outside the Equine Emergency Preparedness Expo on Saturday in the Santa Ynez Valley.Click to view larger

A plastic horse in a harness stands outside the Equine Emergency Preparedness Expo on Saturday in the Santa Ynez Valley. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Connie Weinsoff figured that evacuations of her Montecito employer’s menagerie of animals twice in the past 6 weeks from made her nearly an expert.

Still, she decided to attend the Equine Emergency Preparedness Expo in the Santa Ynez Valley on Saturday along with approximately 75 others reining in helpful tips.

“I’m getting a lot of information that’s going to help my re-evaluating all the plans we have to make,” the Goleta resident said. “Sort  of our debrief of how things are going with this evacuation and what we need to do better next time. This is giving me a lot of tools to take back.”

She works for a large family whose animals, including horses, llamas, alpacas, cows, ducks, chickens, geese and other critters, were still housed at Earl Warren Showgrounds on Saturday. 

“This will help us be more efficient and safe,” she added. 

The event at the Santa Ynez Valley Equestrian Association Party Barn was organized after the Thomas Fire sparked, but before flooding and mudslides hit Montecito Jan. 9 and closed Highway 101 until Sunday.

Despite pleas from people in other counties, organizers declined to postpone the event they say was aimed at helping Santa Ynez Valley horse owners get prepared. 

The highway closure didn’t stop Orange County resident Joy Falk and friends from attending the event they viewed as a great resource and chance to network with others. 

The event included members of the Santa Barbara Equine Assistance and Evacuation Team Inc., plus the Horse Emergency Evacuation Team of San Luis Obispo County. 

“The original goal is it was going to be for the Santa Ynez Valley to start our own group,” co-organizer Dawn Perrine said.

With the Santa Ynez Valley reportedly home to more horses than people, Perrine said organizers felt the event would benefit local horses owners who faced several threats due to fires last year.

Veternarian Dr. Troy Herthel speaks about horses to a crowd Saturday at the Equine Emergency Preparedness Expo for those seeking information about first aid, evacuation and other matters owners and handlers need to know.Click to view larger

Veternarian Dr. Troy Herthel speaks about horses to a crowd Saturday at the Equine Emergency Preparedness Expo for those seeking information about first aid, evacuation and other matters owners and handlers need to know. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Veterinarian Dr. Troy Herthel from Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center spoke about the importance of methods to identify horses — by collars, tattoos or writing contact information with permanent markets on hooves— and keeping their vaccination history ready in case of an emergency.

Owners should think through steps for evacuations and even rehearse steps they will need to take. 

“It’s always good to practice trailer loading,” Herthel said.

Owners should ensure trailers are ready if needed to be used, recalling flat tires that slowed down transportation during a medical emergency.

Supplies to keep handy include halter, bucket for water, hay for a couple of days, medicine and special instructions, he added.

Another key tip: Don’t hesitate.

“You should be prepared to evacuate when its in the voluntary stage, not the mandatory stage,” he said. “It’s always best to err on the side of caution.”

Asked about protecting animals during heavy smoke as many areas experienced during the Thomas Fire, Herthel said he looked online for masks but didn’t spot any.

He said horses should be kept quiet during smoky conditions. 

“The majority of these horses do fine. They’re pretty hearty,” he said, adding equine nasal passages and airways do a good job of filtering most particles.

Santa Ynez Valley resident Teresita Mainer attended the event to gather information because she has three pasture horses.

She said she had not attended a similar session for a while and sought updated information.

“We live back in Woodstock, so we are somewhat limited and need to be prepared and move fast,” she said of a neighborhood in the valley.

Meanwhile, Weinsoff has found a bright spot for the still-evacuated animals being at the fairrounds — firefighters camped nearby are coming to pet the animals.

“I feel like I’m providing a therapy service, too, sort of, by being there,” she said. “Not talking about what they’re seeing, but just giving them a mental break to talk about something fun.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Members of the Santa Barbara Equiine Assistance and Evacuation Team attended the Equine Emergency Prepareness Expo in the Santa Ynez Valley on Saturday.Click to view larger

Members of the Santa Barbara Equiine Assistance and Evacuation Team attended the Equine Emergency Prepareness Expo in the Santa Ynez Valley on Saturday. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)