Tanner Tweed, owner of Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds, and manager Donney Linderholm pulled several all-nighters once mandatory evacuations were ordered to Mariposa residents threatened by the Detwiler Fire.
The grounds opened last week (July 18) as temporary housing for larger animals, and the numbers quickly grew to 63 horses, 15 goats, and three donkeys. Once evacuation orders were lifted, just 21 horses remained a week later.
The Oppenheims, Dinah and David, who live seven miles outside Mariposa, evacuated their home with three horses. They weren’t sure where to go or what to do until they were referred to the rodeo grounds by Hoof ‘n Paw Veterinary Hospital.
“Donney was so nice and most kind. He made sure the horses were in individual pens, that they had food and water,” Dinah said, “Donney and his staff are doing a fantastic job there. They’re so caring and knowledgeable. We’re just so happy they took us in.”
Tweed and Linderholm recognize that they couldn’t do what they have done without tireless volunteers and the community’s support and generosity.
Residents living along Trabucco and Wells roads near the rodeo grounds dropped off water buckets. Box Feed and Gina Samper donated hay. Evans Feed of Madera gave fly masks. Oakhurst Feed & Pet Supply, as well as Coarsegold’s Mountain Feed & Nursery dropped off feed. Others thought of the staff and volunteers, making sure they were fed and hydrated.
“One of my friends, who wants to remain anonymous, had a semi-truck deliver 178 bales of hay at a cost of $3,800,” Linderholm said. “Horse people are really a tight bunch. They rally together to get things done in emergencies like this fire.”
Some came to help from far distances and others from nearby.
Volunteer and farrier Michael Harris lives in Weldon, outside of Bakersfield, where last year more than 300 homes burned in just two days. Harris has made it his mission to travel around helping others in need during wildfires. He also has some vetting experience.
Another volunteer, Daniel Lynch of Coarsegold, has been a great friend of the rodeo grounds for years. He showed up to help out wherever he was needed.
All rodeo grounds staff and volunteers, dedicated to the same cause of the well-being of these animals, worked around the clock as they accepted new arrivals while ensuring those already there were comfortable, safe, well-fed and watered.
While it is expected most horses will be reunited with owners by the end of the week, that may not be the case for some.
“Even though the evacuation orders have lifted,” Tweed said, “some of these animals may not have homes to go back to, so the odds are that we may keep a few for awhile.”
For evacuees without horse trailers, Linderholm said that transportation can be arranged through Madera County Animal Control or Mariposa County Sheriff’s Posse. Owners are asked to contact Linderholm.
“These evacuees went through so much stress because of the fire, worrying about their homes and property,” Linderholm added. “Anything we could do to make it easier on them, that’s what we’re here to do.”