By Maggie Roberts, Equine Director
The Denver Post states that “an average year in Colorado equates to 4,500 fires, or 100,000 acres of state-owned or private property.” Some years are worse than others due to drought. Those community members who remember the Black Forest Fire in 2013 know the devastation and how fires can hit close to home. StableStrides, then Pikes Peak Therapeutic Riding Center, had to evacuate in the middle of the night and things went from bad to worse. Of a herd of about 15 horses, 8 were permanently injured and lamed. We have worked diligently since then to have a feasible plan in place and have all the needed items at the ready. Here is what we have planned and how you can help.
If or when we ever have the unfortunate incident of a wildfire occurring, we plan on evacuating when it’s recommended by the local firefighting district, or government officials. Evacuation sites vary depending on where the fire is located. Fairgrounds are always an option, but we prefer it to be our last resort. Fairgrounds offer a safe haven for those without anywhere to go, but they do group horses together that may have never met before. In a crisis, separate space is limited. What we hope and plan for is to take our horses to one area, somewhere in the state of Colorado. This is where community help is needed.
It Takes a Village
StableStrides keeps a list of evacuation sites of people that have said they are willing to offer their land for emergency shelter for our herd. This list is updated yearly, and we will call before full evacuation takes place so everyone is informed of what to expect. Our herd will need a fenced area that can safely hold up to 15 horses, have 24/7 access to water, have a maintained fence line for horses and ponies, and have at least one run-in shelter. We will bring feed and a list of what each horse gets. We will also bring hay if we are allowed to move hay as it is highly flammable.
We do also look for smaller farms or horse friendly neighborhoods where at least two horses can stay and be cared for if one has an injury. StableStrides Staff will take a horse(s) that are ill as we don’t wish to spread anything to anyone’s herd. But injuries always happen at the worst time. Having a place where they can rest with their favorite herd mate, and be taken care of daily, is a tremendous help to us. First aid supplies, medication, feed, and hay (if allowed) will be brought with the horses.
For those who could take in a barn cat, we have three who would also need a safe haven. Our cats are kept up yearly with vaccinations, rabies, but they are clawed. They all know to use a litter box, they have all been spayed/neutered, and all but the newest member, love attention. All cats would come with dry cat food, but we only have one litter box available.
Lastly, if it interests you to jump in and help with evacuation procedures, we would need assistance moving horses as well as feed. We have a truck and a four-horse trailer, but would need to move approximately 15 horses. In the past we have paired people with a truck with people with a trailer and vice-a-versa. Just be sure to know your truck’s towing capacity. We also have need of people who would move grain, hay, and other smaller horse supplies.
To help out, please email our Equine Director, Maggie Roberts, at [email protected] and tell her how you’d like to participate in our Wildfire Preparedness Plan.