Last week, as the Big Sur fires raged, Cheri Gladstone got a call from a frantic friend and Pfeiffer Ridge resident. The fire was fast encroaching and her two horses needed immediate evacuation. Without hesitating, Cheri hooked up her trailer and headed into the smoke. She was alarmed to find herself driving up a road with flames and burning trees and logs on either side of her. She arrived at the horses to find that the panicked animals needed to be caught. They were Arabians that had not been hauled in years. With ashes raining down and helicopters hovering overhead, Cheri caught and loaded both reluctant animals. One of the horses was aging and stiff. Both were frightened, resistant, and suspicious of the trailer. Within minutes the job was done, horses were loaded, and Cheri had them headed up the coast to the safety of another Point Lobos friend.
Cheri has a mare, Sheba, who is sometimes difficult to load and haul, especially after a serious trailer accident with a former owner. Cheri and I have worked extensively on loading Sheba, sometimes parking Cheri’s trailer for weeks on end over by the barn so that we can load her easily on a daily basis. Cheri has learned the simple technique of pressure and release (especially WHEN to release), and she used this method to load the frightened Big Sur horses. I am always proud of my students when they do well in competition, winning buckles or showing great improvement. But I am just as proud when they are able to put their knowledge to use in times of real need. Thanks, Sheba. Bravo, Cheri! You are truly a hero.
In this photo, Cheri stands with her “Rig” on her faithful Rio.