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we the people

My wife and I, and our horses, live in Southern California.

During the weekend of October 20, several events occurred:

  • My wife rode her new horse, Tadpole Up to the Bar, for the first time in competition. They looked great.
  • I rode my horse, Cowboy Up to the Bar, to the best barrel time ever, shaving over two seconds off my previous best.
  • The Santana (or Santa Ana) Winds began to blow hot, dry dessert air across Southern California.
  • Several power lines blew down, a construction welder had an accident, and an arsonist practiced arson.

Within 24 hours, Southern California was on fire! Within San Diego County alone, over 500 thousand people were evacuated. Suddenly, every person, animal, and structure within at least three counties were facing devastation. If you are not familiar with life in Southern California, believe me that in many ways, wildfires are more terrifying than earthquakes.

The media went to 24 hour coverage of the fires, preempting even the most popular shows. Much discussion concerned accusations of government mismanagement and squabbling (of which there was much) and how much this was all going to cost taxpayers and insurance companies.

Almost immediately, an amazing thing happened … phones started ringing and the Email started to arrive. People from everywhere offered assistance. Websites posted lists of facilities and even private homes that would make room for displaced animals. The freeways were suddenly filled with convoys of horse trailers removing animals from danger.

Calls went out for people to help in any way they could. And WE THE PEOPLE answered. Boarding facilities put up extra stalls and opened their gates. Fancy, exclusive, show facilities took in as many animals as they could fit (in one case, over 250 horses). Offers of boarding for dogs and cats abounded.

And the most incredible and uplifting part… almost nobody asked for any money! At most, people were asked to pay for feed, if they could! One facility refused to take any money for evacuated horses and turned away a truckload of free hay! The owner insisted they had enough hay on hand and that the truck should go to someplace where the need was greater!

People from all around, many with no horse experience, showed up to feed horses and people, learned to muck stalls with the best of them, quickly learned to tell alfalfa from timothy, and did what they could, when they could, and where they could.

Our horses are named Cowboy Up to the Bar and Tadpole Up to the Bar. These names were a bit of a pun based on having Three Bars in Cowboy’s pedigree. Now they will stand in honor of everyone who really did Cowboy Up to the Bar! And they will stand as a memorial to those who went in and did not return.

Next time you mount up to head for first barrel, please give a thought and thanks to everyone, everywhere, who gave some, or all, to help in time of need.

I am proud to be a part of the equestrian community, proud to be a part of the heritage of the cowboy, the vaquero, and every other equestrian. Most of all, I am proud to be part of WE THE PEOPLE!

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."