Valerie Zera

Billed as the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum’s 34th annual Benefit Vaquero Show and Western Collectable Sale, this is one of my very favorite equine related events of the year.

Tonight, the Preview Party opens at 5 p.m. with the chance to enjoy the exhibitor displays and an opportunity for early shopping before the show opens to the public Saturday. Appetizers, local wines and cocktails will be available, with live music performed by Sam Kulchin. There will also be a specially curated exhibit of the work of Cowboy Artist Jack Swanson (1927-2014) shown for the first time.

The Gala Dinner of a plated sirloin steak or salmon dinner with all the trimmings will be served in the museum’s courtyard. Presentations to the 2018 Honored Vaquero Paul Righetti and Artist Jim Stuckenberg will be followed by a live auction of items donated by members and local businesses, including: a four-day stay in Mammoth for eight guests; a trail ride and barbecue at the Chamberlin Ranch and team sorting lessons at the Branquinho Ranch. Reservations must be made in advance. Buy Gala tickets at or call (805) 688-7889. Tickets are $150 each for those who aren’t museum members, $125 for museum members. Annual family museum membership is $50, so for a couple, joining and getting the museum member rate costs the same as the non-member tickets.

While referred to as a “Western Collectable Sale,” many items offered are new, but made in the tradition of the early Californios or vaqueros. I bought a beautiful, well priced pair of chinks a few years ago, and then was able to order custom, matching spur straps a couple of years later. This is also a great Christmas shopping destination if you have folks on your list that would appreciate authentic Native American silver and stone jewelry. Or I’ve found gorgeous, museum quality versions of old vaquero bits, spurs and tack for sale alongside quality, more affordable replica rawhide braided riatas, reins and bosals, or horsehair mecates and cinches.

Custom saddles are offered, original or prints of western artwork (including Christmas cards), new books about the vaquero lifestyle and “gear,” with vendors also offering old, out of print books. Hmmm, I need to find a copy of a book on how to read ranch brands.

You can buy custom fit and shaped hats, new vaquero-themed clothing suitable for mounted shooting competitions and re-enactments. Vendors are present selling and explaining the correct use of antique bits and spurs, while letting you hold and touch merchandise usually only seen in sealed museum cases.

I like to attend on Saturdays, because it’s the longest sale and demonstration day, and a good selection of merchandise is still available. Admission is $5 on Saturday, when the Vaquero Show and Sale is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Be sure to arrive prior to the 11 a.m. start time of the live Vaquero Demonstration and talk by Jeff Mundell and 2012 Vaquero of the Year Bruce Sandifer. Sandifer has a wonderful ability to communicate the concepts of vaquero style riding and roping, using language understandable by everyone.

Sunday, November 11 admission is still $5, but the Vaquero Show and Sale hours are only from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Bruce Sandifer will be joined by Jeff Derby at 11 a.m. for another vaquero riding demonstration and talk.

Both days feature a cowboy barbecue sandwich lunch with beverages available for purchase in the museum’s courtyard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Live musical entertainment will be provided on Saturday afternoon by Brad Cooper, Sunday afternoon’s featured musician is Owen Johnson.

There are additional shopping and eating choices within a couple of blocks from the museum. There’s a cute coffee and gift shop a couple of doors away from the museum. If you’re looking for a used or collectable saddle, I highly recommend Juan A Lara Saddlery across from the museum. And since the Santa Ynez area is known for some pretty great local wines and beers, I’ve found it’s best to have a designated driver or plan to stay overnight in the area.

The Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum is at 3596 Sagunto Street, Santa Ynez. Additional information and ticket sales are available at

Equine herpes virus-1 update

California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Animal Health Branch recently sent out a notice stating: “Nov. 7, 2018: A 24 year old Arabian mare, originating from a San Mateo County facility, displaying neurologic signs has been confirmed positive for Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy. The mare was removed from the property and placed in isolation and quarantined. CDFA is investigating to identify exposed horses which will be monitored for clinical signs and temperatures taken twice daily. Any horse displaying a fever or compatible clinical signs will be tested. CDFA will continue to monitor the situation and post new information as it becomes available.”

California has had no reports of Equine Herpes Virus since a brief quarantine from June 27 to July 11.

For details on how to prevent your horse from being exposed to EHV-1 and EHM, how to recognize symptoms and how to prevent spread of EHV-1 and EHM if they reach your property, see the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s excellent information posted at:

West Nile virus update

The southeastern portion of the U.S., Oklahoma, Ohio and California continue to report additional Equine West Nile Virus cases. One new equine West Nile report last week from Sacramento County brings our state’s year to date total to 11. This most recent case involves a yearling filly with unknown vaccination history, displaying neurologic signs which was confirmed positive for West Nile Virus on Nov. 2. The filly was euthanized due to severity of clinical signs.

California’s 11 equine West Nile cases in 2018 horses were located in Amador, Kern, Merced (2), Placer, Sacramento (3), San Joaquin, Shasta and Stanislaus counties. Five horses were unvaccinated, three horses had an unknown vaccine history, and three horses were reportedly vaccinated. Six horses died or were euthanized, five horses recovered.

Fourteen new human West Nile cases were identified last week, with three of these nearby in Kern County, and one in Ventura County. No new fatalities were reported. No new human Saint Louis Encephalitis cases were reported.

Only three new West Nile positive birds were reported last week, two of these found in Orange County. All three were American crows.

Newly reported West Nile positive mosquito samples also continue to slow, with only five reported last week, one in Riverside County, and four in Los Angeles County: two in Inglewood, and one each in San Fernando Valley’s Encino and Aleta neighborhoods.

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