Horsemen's Rendezvous held in Franktown

Organization has roots in Hayman Fire

Chancy J. Gatlin-Anderson
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 11/4/21

The Douglas-Elbert Horse Council held its annual meeting on Nov. 1, bringing together horse enthusiasts and government officials to discuss various issues impacting horsemen's rights. The event — …

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Horsemen's Rendezvous held in Franktown

Organization has roots in Hayman Fire

Posted

The Douglas-Elbert Horse Council held its annual meeting on Nov. 1, bringing together horse enthusiasts and government officials to discuss various issues impacting horsemen's rights.

The event — “Horsemen's Rendezvous: Protecting Equestrians' Rights!” — was held at the Franktown Fire Department and was led by council co-creator Fred Wehrli.

“I helped start the Horse Council 20 years ago. It mainly came out of the Hayman Fire in 2002 when we had to evacuate hundreds of horses,” said Wehrli. “We provided volunteers to care for over 500 horses and were able to use the Douglas County Fairgrounds to house them.”

According to the Douglas-Elbert Horse Council's website, “In the aftermath of the fire, it became evident that an organization of the various horse clubs and horse owners was needed to continue with assisting in disaster rescue and to work closely with the county governments to make sure the collective voice of the horse community was heard. With this in mind, the Douglas-Elbert County Horse Council was formed.”

The general purpose of the organization is fourfold:

• To provide an association of persons having a common interest in the promotions and improvement of the horse industry in Douglas and Elbert counties

• To provide disaster- and emergency-related horse rescue management and related education

• To educate and report to the horse community related issues regarding land use, taxes and legislation at the county level

• To support trail, safety, and open space development and to educate the horse community on the issues

The annual Horsemen's Rendezvous event consisted of field experts who spoke on various topics related to the organization's outlined purpose:

Bill Scebbi, executive director of the Colorado Horse Council and the Colorado Horse Development Authority, discussed legislative issues concerning horse owners.

Anne Walton, emergency management project coordinator with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, provided a Douglas County Animal Response Team report.

Shane Pynes, director of Elbert County Emergency Management, outlined his goal for creating Elbert County's general horse-related emergency response plan.

Cheryl Matthews, director of Douglas County Open Space & Natural Resources, and Amy Knapp, senior park ranger, provided an update on Douglas County Open Space.

Dan Dertz and Steve Shoultz, Douglas County Parks and public outreach, discussed park trails and trailheads of Douglas County and the surrounding areas.

The Brand Inspection Division of the Colorado Department of Agriculture provided and explanation of branding rules and regulations.

Stacy Whitton, veterinarian with Elizabeth-based Iron Horse Equine Medical & Surgical Services, gave a presentation on what people should know about protecting their horses through vaccination.

Given the organization's roots with the 2002 Hayman Fire, emergency management experts Shane Pynes of Elbert County and Anne Walton of Douglas County were a highlight of the event.

Walton stressed the counties' goal of active mass care for animals in regard to emergency management as well as their partnership with the Dumb Friends League.

“We want to make sure that when we activate mass care for humans that we also activate mass care for animals,” said Walton. “There were thousands of animals evacuated in the 2020 fires, but thankfully we didn't have a very aggressive fire season in Elbert and Douglas counties.”

Pynes has been working in Elbert County for two years and is currently working with the community to develop an effective emergency management strategy for horse owners of Elbert County.

“I want to take this opportunity to invite horse owners of Elbert County to reach out to me,” said Pynes. “Let's connect about what we can do to help evacuate and relocate horses in the event of an emergency.”

Currently, in addition to relocating animals to the Elbert County and Douglas County fairgrounds, the counties also work with the Dumb Friends League Harmony Equine Center located in Franktown. In the event of an emergency, the Dumb Friends League has a large animal shelter to house relocated horses and other large animals. According to Walton, the shelter has even housed elephants.

To learn about the Douglas-Elbert Horse Council, visit dechc.org.

For more information about the Harmony Equine Center of the Dumb Friends League, visit ddfl.org/harmony-equine-center.

To contact Shane Pynes, director of Elbert County Emergency Management, please visit elbertcounty-co.gov, go to the Government tab, and under Departments click on Emergency Management.

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