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Del Mar and Hurricane Hilary

Horses in outdoor pens? Who Knew? Hope all stay safe.

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I was kind of appalled by that. TB race horses in chain link pens with tarps over top? Wow! The sport of kings?

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Yeah, right? And the story mentions that John Sadler has horses in pens, so not just the little guys.
On the other hand, in usually sunny SoCal there is no need to keep the horses warm. Maybe they do OK in the open, with lots of fresh air. Unless, of course, a hurricane.


Forecasters predict winds will top out at 35 mph in Del Mar. Near gale force, that’s definitely enough to blow things around. If Del Mar is like most shed rows in Southern California, there are plenty of roofs, not much for walls, so I can see why people might move their horses.

It’s going to be over fast, though. I begin to think it’s much adieu about nothing everywhere except the desert. I just switched with a co-worker to feed dinner at the ranch where I board my horse tomorrow because I don’t want to get stuck at the bottom of the mountain I live on. I’m already thinking I didn’t need to do it.

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That’s the psychological trap of hurrican preparation. (Said by someone who has lived a significant part of their life near a hurricane coast, as has a large chunk of extended family.)

“Maybe I don’t really need to do this.” People try to forecast the future in their minds to minimize their trouble. Understandable and very human.

The concept is to make preventing harm to the lives one is responsible for as the first priority, even if in hindsight it seems like an over-reaction. That’s not what is important. What’s important is being sure.

If you evacuate and then the hurricane misses the place you evacuated from, that’s a good thing. The evacuee was safe no matter what happened. And they didn’t lose anything at home.

A friend once evacuated with her young daughter in front of a Cat 4 hurricane, from a low-lying area that has been hit hard in the past. The storm turned at the last minute, missing her home and going straight over her parents’ place over 200 miles away, where they had taken shelter. I tease her that I’m not sure that counts as an evacuation. It was inland high ground and the storm was not as strong when it went over them, and they came through ok.


I’m here in Del Mar and the difference between West Coast to East Coast horsekeeping is worth its own thread!

Without having seen the outdoor pens. I wonder if by “tarps” they mean sail shades which are common throughout Southern California. After caring for my TB in full pasture in the WNC, it’s an adjustment for me but the horses (very green OTTBs) seem to be very content in their open pens with partial covering. The climate is mild enough that even in the heat of day they’re choosing to snooze in the sun.

Southern California, as a whole, has responded with a “better safe than sorry” Monet and has taken the warning seriously. We’re fresh off a very wet winter so the level of potential destruction is present in everyone’s mind.


Having learned horse care in Southern California and moved with horses to Maine as a teen, I am now back in my hometown after 30 years of frozen water troughs. I’d follow that thread.

I did a satellite search of the track and no tarps were visible. Those sail shades, either overhead or down the side of open shed rows, are common all over Southern California. Even equine hospitals in the region can be pipe corrals under long roofs.


Appalled? If you were a horse what would you rather be in, in southern California. A 4 side wooden/cement block stall or an outside chainlink pen with shade?


It is not what you are envisioning.

They are open air stalls with shade.

The “chain link pens” are heavy duty, high quality chain link panels that are extremely common for housing racehorses everywhere.

The “tarps” are permanently secured (like the high end dog kennel style roof) or those mare motel style corrugated roofs.

A horse I had a microshare in was housed like that frequently. If I was in SoCal, I’d prefer that too… unless the first hurricane in a century is spinning up the coast.


There have been many over the years…


should see some of the “stall” / shed arrangements at Saratoga LOL. A roof, chest height walls or split rail fence, tiny little box. The horses in them are probably happier having so much air flow but I still can’t imagine there are not accidents or horses trying to heave themselves over the short walls if they get excited.

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