By Raiza Giorgi

Larry Saarloos
Photo contributed

Larry Saarloos had a booming, infectious laugh that could make anyone turn their head in amazement. Susan “Sue” Herthel was a quiet, but strong leader in the equine medicine world as the matriarch of Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center. Both of these longtime Santa Ynez Valley locals were honored as hundreds of Santa Ynez Valley locals turned out to give a wave, and tip their hats to their families on April 26 in Los Olivos. 

There was an impromptu processional of more than 300 cars, trucks, wagons and horses that paraded down Grand Avenue, where people waved to the Herthel and Saarloos families that sat along the street. The bells at St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church rang for 45 minutes straight by Rev. Randall Day in honor of the two. 

Herthel was the wife of the late veterinarian Doug Herthel and co-founder of Alamo Pintado. She was a teacher by trade and quickly trained to become an incredible veterinary technician, assisting Dr. Herthel with all facets of equine medicine, according to her son, Troy Herthel. 

Doug and Sue Herthel started the Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center on their property along Alamo Pintado Road in Los Olivos. Some friends remember that even before they opened the clinic, Herthel would practice at his residence, even doing surgery in the front yard, in downtown Los Olivos across from St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church.

Doug Herthel passed in July 2018, of Lewy body disease, and Sue followed in late April. 

For Doug and Sue Herthel, the Santa Ynez Valley was love at first sight.
Photo contributed

“The outpouring of love and support from the Santa Ynez Valley residents as well as the equine and veterinary communities has been overwhelmingly positive and comforting!,” Troy Herthel wrote. “The Herthel families as well as the Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center family greatly appreciate everyone’s well wishes, inspirational stories, and most importantly emotional support! Though they may not physically remain, their spirit, ideals, and love story live on in each and every one of us.” 

Larry Saarloos passed after complications from a horseback riding accident at Hollister Ranch on April 14. He was flown to UCLA Medical Center and treated for a broken neck. He was supposedly recovering, until a social media post a week later by his son Keith Saarloos indicated he passed. 

“They say you don’t become a man until your dad passes away,” Keith Saarloos said in an post. “Today my brother and I are men. The best part about it I had a really good teacher, and we had nothing left unsaid to our father.”  

“That right there is my dad,” Keith said, pointing the camera to the vineyard on Ballard Canyon Road. “This is who he is.”

The Saarloos family came to the Santa Ynez Valley in the late 1990s when they purchased The Roasted Bean coffee shop in Santa Ynez (now known as Pony Espresso). They settled in Los Olivos and started a vineyard, growing grapes for local vintners and then started their own label Saarloos and Sons, opening a tasting room at the end of Grand Avenue. The elder Saarloos was active in the horse community, being a member of several riding groups such as the Valley Penning Association and a member of the Rancheros Visitadores. 

The Santa Ynez Valley Star wants to express our sincere condolences to both the Herthel and Saarloos families. Sue and Larry will leave a void in our community, and we will honor their memories.