Reiners, Assemble

When fires in Cave Creek, Arizona, encroached on NRHA Professional Pedro Baiao’s barn, his reining family helped rescue his horses.

“The greatest thing about the horse world is that when someone needs something, we all drop everything to help,” said NRHA non pro Dana Avila.

This was evident over the weekend (May 30), when the place NRHA Professional Pedro Baiao trains out of in Cave Creek, Arizona, was engulfed in flames.

“On Saturday, the owner of the ranch called and said the fire was close,” recalled Ana Baiao, Pedro’s wife. “We live 5 minutes from the ranch, and by the time we got there, there was smoke everywhere.”

Turning to their reining family, the Baiaos first called fellow professional Martin Muehlstatter to assemble a group of trailers to help rescue the 30 horses in danger. Pedro previously worked for Martin, and even though Martin was preparing to show in the derby at the Mother’s Day Slide, he along with Brent Naylor, Crystal McNutt, Bob and Dana Avila, and others hooked up their trailers and headed north.

“Brent hooked up his trailer and called us,” Dana recalled. “I called Crystal, and she was right behind us and had called her husband and father to help. As we got closer, my GPS told me we were going right into the middle of the fire.

“When we got there,” she continued, “the sheriff didn’t want to let us in. We all told him we had to evacuate the horses. A guy on a quad came around and confirmed that Pedro’s place was right around the corner, so the sheriff escorted us in. We had eight rigs and started pulling horses out of the barns.”

In the meantime, Ana had her 18-month-old baby in her car, where she was piling bridles and saddles, trying to save any of their gear. Within 5 to 7 minutes, all the horses were loaded, and the caravan of trailers started making their way out of the ranch, once again following a sheriff.

“It was much worse on the way out than it was on the way in,” Dana said. “But it was really impressive to see everyone jump in together. Even the sheriffs helped get horses. I ran to get the last horse, and the sheriff had him—a 2-year-old stud colt in a string halter! I took him from the sheriff. Overall, the horses did amazing and just handled it.”

Ana said they work for Marc Gordon, and he and the Baiaos are grateful to everyone for contributing trailers and time to save their horses.

“We are just so thankful to everyone who helped,” Ana concluded. 

As luck would have it, the Baiaos were gearing up to move into a new place next to the Avilas. Their horses in training were dispersed across various barns until they’re ready to make the move.