KTVN Covers First Responders Horse Handling & Safety Clinic
Maplewood Stables owner Julie Winkel has seen her share of emergencies in Pleasant Valley. The Washoe Drive Fire burned right through her property.
"In 2012 I lost my home," Winkel said. "We evacuated 50 horses that day so I have firsthand experience in how important it is to have an evacuation plan."
Then the Little Valley Fire tore through the area in 2016.
"We had some unfortunate circumstances where some of the horses didn’t get out," she said.
She realized with a little training, first responders could help horse owners who need to evacuate in these types of situations.
"People that don't know a lot about horses are under the assumption that horses are big mean animals because they're large and that's the farthest thing from the truth," Winkel said. "Horses actually are flight animals; they're very much herd animals and they look for leadership. So if the person handling them can act like a leader instead of someone that's afraid of them, that goes a long way."
The training focuses on how horses see and react, how to behave around them and how to safely halter a horse and get it on a trailer.
A group of volunteers from the Washoe County Search and Rescue Team came down for this latest round of training.
"I've done fire evacuations but not with large animals," said Lee Rhodes. "That's one of the reasons we all came to this, in order to be able to help, whatever that need may be."
This is the fourth time Maplewood Stables has offered this training. Hundreds of first responders have already gone through it. The next step is to reach out to the area's horse owners.
"We are in the process of certifying people that have trailers that want to volunteer in these emergencies to help evacuate," Winkel said. "We are also in the process of educating barn owners in what their responsibility is as far as making sure their horses load in a trailer and making sure their halters are in front of their stalls or corrals. Those are the responsibilities of horse owners way before it's time to evacuate."
These clinics are held twice a year and there are a lot of familiar faces here.
"Some of the first responders between clinics come out and say, can we hang out today and help turn horses out, groom them, so we can get more comfortable with them," Winkel said. "So we're totally about that too, it's a win-win situation."
These seminars are free and open to everyone who think these skills may come in handy some day.