With hurricanes and wild fires wreaking havoc over the gulf and west coasts of our country, it was most apropos that just before the start of the Freestyle on Saturday night at Dressage At Devon, Dr. Richard Louis Stevens of Thousand Oaks, California took center stage and was honored with the 2005 Marty Simensen Memorial Trophy.
Dr. Stevens has successfully guided FEMA to understand that in cases of natural disaster, people will not leave without their 4-legged companions. He has created communication systems and evacuation plans that facilitate the movement of horses out of areas hit by natural disaster. He has made it possible for horse owners to evacuate areas under threat, given evacuation routes that are kept clear by the cooperative efforts of local officials. A near-death and -disaster experience inspired Dr. Stevens to make a difference in how we respond to profound crises of Nature.
In a raging California fire in 1997, Dr. Stevens found himself alone in his vet truck near a horse breeding farm near Malibu. Recognizing the farm’s 22 broodmares were in eminent danger standing within their barn atop a hill, he thought quickly and single-handedly moved the 22 mares to an enclosed outdoor arena at a much lower elevation. Next, Dr. Stevens heavily tranquilized each broodmare to keep them still as the fire passed. The fire, having consumed the broodmare barn with explosive force, soon swept over the sleeping mares and Dr. Stevens, who crouched among them. All were singed, but basically unhurt.
Having survived the 1997 fire, saving 22 valuable broodmares in addition to his own life, Dr. Stevens then went to work to correct the breakdowns that had wrecked havoc on the previous emergency procedures. His work has organized, facilitated, and smoothed all rescue operations, withstanding the test of subsequent fires, mudslides, and earthquakes.
Dr. Stevens was selected as the 2005 recipient of the Marty Simensen Memorial Trophy due to his heroic efforts and committed actions that have made such a lasting difference. The Marty Simensen Memorial Trophy was established by Hilltop Farm, Inc and the Smiths of Marblehead, Massachusetts as a humanitarian award given in the equestrian community each year to honor an individual whose life’s work reflects Marty’s same spirit. Dr. Simensen was the US Equestrian Team vet for over 22 years, widely loved for his endless commitment and generosity toward his equine patients and their human companions.
Nominations for the Marty Simensen Memorial Trophy are accepted annually by Susanne Hassler of Hilltop Farm, Inc. Nominations must be made in writing by August 1st and can be mailed to Hilltop Farm, Inc. 1089 Nesbitt Road, Colora, MD 21917.