Displaced Horses in Good Hands at Earl Warren

Santa Barbara Equine Still Evacuating Animals, Despite Showground's Booked Stables

Rawls Thompson evacuates the fire with Trigger.
Paul Wellman

[Update, 11:20 p.m.]: Earl Warren has no more room for horses or large animals. Call Santa Barbara County’s Animal Services hotline at (805) 681-4332 for help evacuating them.

[Original Story]: As the Scherpa Fire burns 4,000 acres of coastal Gaviota, about 250 Arabian horses are headed to Earl Warren Showgrounds for the west’s largest Arabian horse show, which runs June 21-26. However, 155 animals —105 horses, 30-45 sheep and goats, and one donkey — who’ve found refuge from the fire among the Earl Warren’s 600 stalls remain in good hands, said the facility’s CEO Scott Grieve.

Fueled by volunteers, the nonprofit Santa Barbara Equine Assistance & Evacuation Team, Inc. since Wednesday has been shuttling horses to the Earl Warren — a designated evacuation site for large animals. Now, they’re working to relocate the animals before Saturday and Sunday, when all stalls are booked for the Arabian Horse Association’s Region Two Pre-Show and Champion Shows.

As the fire burns through grazing lands, many animal owners find their properties no longer at risk. “At least 60 horses got to go back home today,” said Santa Barbara Equine spokesperson Lisa Runyen. Today volunteers moved 24 polo horses to Monty Robert’s Flag Is Up Farms, Inc. in Solvang. Currently, the nonprofit is scouting out space to shelter another 50 horses.

Santa Barbara Equine, said Runyen, has an agreement with Earl Warren to house large animals at its showgrounds in emergencies. “We’ve always taken in horses,” said Grieve, who recalled doing the same during the Jesusita, Tea, and Zaca fires. “We’re not evicting anyone — we’re taking care of everyone.”

Animal owners who need to evacuate large livestock can call Santa Barbara Equine’s hotline at (805) 892-4484, the county’s Animal Services from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. M-F at (805) 681-4332, or 9-1-1.

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