Practical Horseman

Fighting FIRE with Knowledge

In October 2016, a wildfire about five miles south of hunter/jumper trainer Julie Winkel’s Nevada-based Maplewood Stables destroyed approximately 30 homes and some barns, where a few of the horses died. Winkel's son, Kevin, and assistant trainer Andrew Jayne from her Reno facility had gone over to help evacuate the horses, but they were turned away by the county sheriff’s office.

At one family farm, a young woman was there alone, trying to deal with about 20 horses. “She was the only one who knew anything about horses when the first responders howed up. They didn’t know how to put a halter on them or lead them or anything that could help her,” Winkel recalled. That situation pointed out a huge problem.

“After the fire, someone said, ‘These first responders need some kind of training,’” she continued. So Winkel stepped up. “I said I’d love to do a free first responder’s clinic and invite anyone, not just first responders, but neighbors, firefighters, search-and-rescue people—anyone interested in knowing more about horses so they could understand how to help us in an emergency.” That category includes floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and a variety of other disasters.

“Horses are so big, and in a

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