Hansen Dam Horse Park Happenings
Written by CRM
Thursday, 06 December 2018 00:00

Ever At The Ready: “We Never Want to Turn Away a Horse in Need.”

Once again, Hansen Dam Horse Park was there when the Southern California equestrian community needed it most. The 38-acre facility in the Los Angeles area’s Lake View Terrace was officially designated an emergency evacuation site for horses around 11:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 8. What would become one of California’s most devastating fires, the Woolsey fire, had begun that afternoon and the Horse Park was ready. So were savvy horsemen set on getting their horses to safety at the first spark of risk.

Many horses were headed Hansen Dam’s way well before that official designation. With a great reputation as a boarding, competition and show venue, it’s a go-to destination for official and volunteer first-responders.  Along with permanent stabling for 170 horses, the completely revitalized Horse Park has 348 show stalls available and ample space to care for equine evacuees.  Since veteran equestrian facility manager Larry Langer took the reins as Managing Director in September of 2017, Hansen Dam Horse Park has been designated an official evacuation center three times. That included sheltering hundreds of horses during last fall’s Creek fires.

“A lot of people just know to come here,” Larry explains. “Because the fires broke out in the middle of the night, we had people coming in after we locked our gates at 9:00 p.m. They call the emergency number we have posted on the gate and our Facility Manger, Luis Flores, opens the gate.

“We never want to turn away a horse in need,” Larry continues of the Hansen Dam protocol in such circumstances. “We are in this business because we love horses.” Which is a good thing because Hansen Dam was suddenly home to an extra 350 of them, at least for a week or so.

Hansen Dam Horse Park is especially well-suited for such emergencies because the show and boarding facilities are nicely divided by “Main Street.” Year-round boarders and Hansen Dam Riding School students can continue their regular activities (as air quality allows), while City and County Animal Care and Control teams tend to evacuees on the show side of the property’s efficient layout.

The design is particularly helpful for managing the initial, inevitable chaos. “Often the horses are brought in by volunteer haulers, so we have no idea who owns the horse or anything about them. Many come in without halters because they were loose on the street when somebody picked them up. There is no such thing as an orderly fire.”

In a recent interview with the League of Agricultural & Equine Centers, he advised horse owners: “Have nameplates on halters, lead ropes available, water buckets and even battery-operated flashlights, in addition to first aid supplies.”

The evacuated horses’ care is managed by City and County officials. Volunteer help and the distribution of non-stop donations fall under their control, too. Yet there were many situations in which Larry’s many years of experience were an asset to all involved. He’s proud to be part of a state-wide equestrian network renowned for its generosity and willingness to step up.          

“America is a good place to be in these situations,” Larry observes. “Individuals, feed stores, the Santa Anita Race Track, etc., have brought piles of equipment, buckets, hay, and more to us so we haven’t had to buy all that. We even have veterinarians who are treating horses. The community always rises to the occasion when there’s an emergency.”

Because of the inevitable emergencies, Hansen Dam Horse Park has designated a locked storage container for evacuation supplies and leftover items donated for the recent fire. They will be used for the next emergency.

The Hansen Dam Horse Park is home to horse boarding, training at all levels, including a USHJA Recognized Riding School, and regularly hosts equestrian competitions, special events, parties and educational opportunities.

For more information, visit www.hansendamhorsepark.com, call 818-896-6514 or stop by for a tour at 11127 Orcas Avenue in Lake View Terrace. Press release provided by LEG Up News.