By Victoria Martinez

Santa Ynez Valley Star

Despite last-minute presenter cancellations and the closure of Highway 101 due to the Montecito mudslide, more than 75 people packed the Santa Ynez Valley Equestrian Center on Jan. 20 for the first local Equine Emergency Preparedness Expo.

“I’m most excited about seeing the turnout and people learning,” said one of two event organizers, Julie Monser.

Monser and Dawn Perrine, two women heavily involved in the local equine community, organized the event because they believed there was a local need for more organization and training to safely help animals during a crisis.

“I think this is really good to get people planning,” Perrine said.

Though Cal Fire and Santa Barbara County Fire Department were not able to participate due to the Montecito disaster efforts, San Luis Obispo HEET (Horse Emergency Evacuation Team), Santa Barbara Animal Services, Backcountry Horsemen, Santa Barbara Equine Evacuation and Assistance team Inc., the Halter Project, and others provided a variety of presenters and demonstrations throughout the day.

Dr. Troy Herthel from Alamo Pintado Equine Center encouraged horse owners to “err on the side of caution” when dealing with animals during disaster and to always prepare to evacuate during a voluntary order rather than waiting for a mandatory one.

John Albin, vice president of event sponsor Santa Ynez Valley Riders, noted how wonderful it was to see so many people coming together for this type of emergency preparedness event.

“I love it,” Albin said. “I think it’s really important.”

Monser and Perrine both believe the event will be the first of many in the Santa Ynez Valley.

For more information, visit the Equine Emergency Preparedness Expo group on Facebook or call Monser at 805-264-3422 or Perrine at 805-245-6727.