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Horses, owners find temporary home at SF Equestrian Center

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By John Severance

For this week at least, the Santa Fe Equestrian Center is home for the majority of the Los Alamos horses that are kept at North Mesa Stables.

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Others are being housed at Grandabon Farm in Lamy and the Santa Fe Rodeo Grounds.

Getting the horses evacuated was a difficult task.

Los Alamos resident Lisa Reader and many other horse owners had been through the Cerro Grande Fire so they knew what to expect.

“During the Cerro Grande Fire, they did not let us back in but this year we were able to make numerous trips,” Reader said. “Last time, the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Posse helped out and took the rest of the horses out which we were thankful for but we had no idea which horse went where.”

This time, the Santa Fe Equestrian Center stepped in and offered free board to the evacuees.
With numerous trips up the hill and a place to put the horses, Reader and others could develop an intake service.

Most horses are an easy keeper, which means they usually eat hay and water.

Horse owners, though, have their own ways to take care of their horses.

The horses eat different kinds of feed and others need different kinds of medication.

That’s why it was a blessing for the North Mesa Stable folks that the Santa Fe Equestrian Center stepped in.

The equestrian center is owned by Los Alamos National Bank. The bank foreclosed on the property last year under owner Charles Kokesh. At that time, the property was known as the Santa Fe Horse Park.

With LANB owning the equestrian center, property manager Ann Wilson opened the doors.

“We have over 200 animals and all of North Mesa is here,” Wilson said. “We accept any kind of animal.”

So not only horses are housed, but so are goats, chickens and even some llamas and alpacas.

The other benefit is that the animal owners can camp at the facility and Wilson opened up the clubhouse where there is a kitchen, shower and most importantly, air conditioning.

“We are one big happy family,” Wilson said. “People come in crying and we try to make them feel at home.  Their animals are an extension of their family. ”

Wilson said she was prepared to take in livestock during the Pacheco Canyon fire as well.

“There was some talk that the fire would spread either to Tesuque or Nambe and I got some calls,” Wilson said. “I told them to come over.”

Back in the polo barns of the center, four or five campers can be seen where owners wait for the go-ahead to head home back to Los Alamos.

From their spot, they can see the smoke billowing from the fire.

The Northern New Mexico Horsemen’s Association was ready for the evacuees at the Rodeo Grounds as well.

“We have plenty of stalls left,” said Barbara Rogers, the onsite caretaker for the Horsemen’s Association.

Some owners of horses involved in the Los Alamos Pony Club sent their horses to Grandabon Farm, which is owned by Vanessa Waltz and the facility is being run by Lindsay Lechner.

Back at the equestrian center, Reader was asked what the biggest key to the evacuation was.

She said there were three things. First, they were allowed back in, they were able to keep track of the horses and thirdly, was her cell phone.

“During the Cerro Grande Fire, my bill for the month was $1,600,” she said. “Now I have unlimited minutes.”