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20 DALE GIBSON We’re very, very excited. As you know

in 2017, the Creek Fire turned around and wiped out my ranch. Took four out of five barns. We had 83 horses at the ranch., For years before that, before 2017, we had always been an evacuation site because we are on the other side of the 210 freeway and there’s water. So, we had about 50 or 60 horses evacuated to our ranch already that day, and when the fire turned and came back around we had to evacuate not just our horses, but almost 150 total head of horses that day and had no where to go. There was another ranch across the way

on the otherside of Lakeview Terrace. At 4:30 that morning she knew she was at the base of the hill, and she evacuated. What this pit is going to enable us to do, next time there is a red flag warning and anybody in the area needs a place to go, the gates will be open and you just take your horses down there and put them in a 12 x 12. And they’ll be safe. It’s not a city-run deal. It’s our thing — it’s a community project. And like I said, the only thing holding us back is how many corral panels we can get up down there. We’re very, very excited about it. If anybody

from Vulcan is listening, I want to give them a really big thank you becasue this is a real godsend. For the last 80 years, they’ve been taking sand and rock out, basicially building any- thing concrete — skyscrapers, you name it. They want to give back to the community. Again, this goes back to being part of the community — becasue I was involved with the high-speed rail and this and that, this just came. You really have to be involved.

complete interview: htps://

editor’s note: This interview by John DeBevoise for Horsetrader Media was one of 19 in the live Horsetrader Media Studio during three days of the Western States Horse Expo Pomona last November. For additional information on Horsetrader Media, send us an email to: We’d love to share our new media products!

Read the “10 Tips to Tame the Bureaucracy” by California horse advocate Lynn Brown.

focus onCOMMUNITY This article appeared in the Sept. 1, 2018 issue of California Horsetrader magazine. 10 tips

to tame the Bureaucracy

Lessons learned in getting important issues achieved at agencies

EDITOR’S NOTE: Los Angeles horse- woman Lynn Brown has been a leading activist for equestrians for decades, helping horse groups navigate unfa- miliar terrain of municipal government when important issues arise. Most recently, she worked with friends to successfully oppose a land use propos- al in the Burbank-Glendale area that, if passed, would have replaced a legacy stable with condominiums.

T by lynn brown / for the horsetrader

he adage, “you can’t fight City Hall,” is not true—you can! Some may try and find that the cards seem

stacked against them, or that the opposition was better organized. I’d like to provide some sugges- tions that have worked—and now is the time. These days, preserving equestrian life in many communi- ties requires that its horsepeople to take up the fight. The first challenge is to be pos-

itive, to know you can make a dif- ference. It’s not always easy. In our recent batle to preserve the Silver Spur Stables from being demol- ished and rebuilt as small-lot housing, the task at first seemed impossible. We tackled it anyway, and to our surprise, we won—the individual who had applied to Glendale City Council for a zoning change, suddenly aſter months of relentless opposition, withdrew his request. If he had been suc- cessful in obtaining the zoning change, it would spell the end of all the historic boarding barns and feed stores along Riverside Drive.

Here are some effective tips: 1. BE POSITIVE. An atitude of NOT being able to fight city hall

leads to discouragement, apathy and inaction. Equestrians, like hikers, tend to be solitary folk, used to going out on their own. I have had a hard time geting people to show up to a meeting to bring their concerns forward to land managers, City Hall, and statewide issues affecting trails, trail access and preservation of equestrian horse-keeping. People felt that they couldn’t win, so why expend the energy? Nothing builds success like suc- cess. Once a victory is obtained, possibilities open up, and people are more willing to try.


OFFICIALS, and make yourself known in a friendly way—BEFORE asking for any favors from them. Learn to be especially nice to the secretary or staffer who answers the phone. Oſten the secretary is the one who plans the boss’s schedule. That person can be very sympathetic and helpful. If you make an enemy of the staffer, you will be placed in “Appointment- waiting Hell.”


your local bureaucratic process, as each jurisdiction may work differ- ently. Know what you can ask for and what you can’t. Also, know that requests to officials can take time. You have to allow time for your request to be dealt with. Cities have to follow state law for land use or complicated environ- mental processes. Find out who’s in charge. Gather allies, make friends with them, and remember to always put requests in writing.


Don’t wait—you can’t wait until your hair is on fire to run for help.


united front is key to effective- ness with decision-makers. Horsepeople defeat themselves by batling among themselves over horse breeds and riding disci- plines. Oſten they fall apart before they even reach the decision-mak- ers. No mater what the breed of horse or the riding discipline, from Quarter Horses to European dressage horses, they are all equines. Each owner loves their horse/mule, and they practice what their disciplines are. It is unimportant to the public, but oſten the batle is lost before it even reaches the board or council. Be a unified voice!


HORSEPEOPLE, TOO. Make friends with non-horse people who may share your concerns. This can be a big help, especially on trail issues. Recruit allies to your cause. If it is just equestri- ans, bureaucrats can dismiss you (“Oh it’s the horse people again—they always complain about everything.”) But, if there is a non-horse group like hikers, jog- gers, mommy-stroller groups, dog walkers and environmentalists, bird watchers, etc., you present a panoply of different people on the same issue. It is much harder for the land managers/bureaucrats to dismiss the issue.


Even if you are upset or angry at what’s happening with your issue, the WORST thing you can do is to take the atitude “I pay your sala- ry” with either the land manager or an elected person. You are likely to receive the following answer (either out loud from the person you’ve pulled rank on or just in the treatment of your issue): “Oh, you want this done when? I’ll check my calendar. How about never? Is never good for you?”


ALONG WITH A COMPLAINT. When you come to complain, bring a solution. Sometimes, the people you are asking for help might not have a clue as to what could be done. Always be willing to accept a half-victory, instead of a complete defeat. Speaking on an issue is fine, but having it in writing makes it a permanent document for the record.


ALLY FIRST. A political sense is not something we are born with. We learn from others. Check your impulses to phone or write leters to influential people with another ally who might be knowledgeable about your issue and who knows how to achieve goals. To this day, I’ll check out a good idea with another person. It has saved me a lot of horrific mistakes, and I learned through the process.


up at meetings or in a manager’s office. I have dragged myself to meetings that I didn’t want to atend. You never know who you will meet that will be helpful to your issue. Bring a business card, if you have one, and be sure you collect the cards from the people siting on the other side of the desk. The card you get from them could be gold—especially if your arguments have made an import- ant impression. Also, if you have a flyer or a printed statement, be sure and leave it behind. At the end of their day, certain busy offi- cials may not remember what you wanted in detail, so your “leave-be- hind” piece will be helpful. Don’t show up looking as if you just came from mucking the stalls. They’ll know you are horsepeople anyway, but it is insulting to the officials when you look like you’d never bathed or put on clean clothes. At an important meeting, try

to take people with you who are well-spoken and not obviously angry. Two or three people who present themselves well can be more effective than a larger group who might burst into tears, get really angry, speak off-point or ramble on with personal stories about their childhood.

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