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Saluting a year’s worth of highlights and heroes


DECEMBER’S WILDFIRES— and subsequent mudslides a month later in some areas—was far from forgoten in communi- ties from San Diego County to Central California. In many plac- es, victim needs still outstripped supplies. But signs of recovery were appearing, slowly. While the toll of the terrible

trio—the Lilac Fire in Bonsall, Creek Fire in Los Angeles and Thomas Fire in Ventura County— was still being calculated, groups formed both formally and infor- mally to mutually support and educate neighbors in respective communities. Deer Springs Equestrian in

San Marcos, a few miles due south of the Lilac Fire, conduct-

ed a two-hour equine microchip clinic on Jan. 13, where Dr. Emily Sandler of Pacific Coast Equine Veterinary Services micro- chipped and registered horses. The local advocacy group, the Twin Oaks Valley Equestrian Association, sent out a compre- hensive self-evacuation guide that could be a difference-maker in preparation for a future event. The guide is rooted in the Cal Fire Volunteers in Prevention campaign aſter the June 2008 Lightning Strike Fires in Tehama County. (A link to this guide is at the end of this article.) In the area struck by the Creek

Fire in Los Angeles, equestrians banded together to educate, plan and communicate using lessons learned from the Dec. 6 firestorm that devastated long- time equestrian centerpieces

in their community like Middle Ranch and Gibson Ranch. At Gibson Ranch, volunteers

worked several months, lending skills and effort toward a com- mon vision: the return of the horse ranch to normal.

Evacuation Guide download online htp://


DAY aſter his passing, Samsung Woodstock, the chestnut geld- ing who won scores of show jumping honors and the hearts of fans worldwide, received the California Professional Horseman’s Association Equine Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ann Champion grinds at Gibson Ranch. Ann Champion, an art direc-

tor and production designer for television and motion pictures, had boarded her Saddlebred at Gibson Ranch until it passed away in 2007. “I just could not NOT come

back and help, once this hap- pened,” said Champion, one of many volunteers who descend- ed upon the devastated Gibson Ranch to aid its resurrection. She was comfortable grinding away nubs of steel from dozens of pipe corrals—a task required after deformed, melted metal mesh had to be snipped away and removed. “Each day, I try to finish what

I have to do so I can come here and get a couple hours of grind- ing in. That’s about all I’m good for, and then my hands start to hurt. This was my home away from home before my horse died 11 years ago—now, it is again. “This is therapeutic,” she

The comeback from the Creek Fire required nature as well as volunteers (inset).

added. “It’s like working with horses—it keeps you totally in the moment, and you can’t think about anything else. And, I’m also helping a good friend.”


Horsetrader photo

Horsetrader photo

Horsetrader photo

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