Both people and animals have suffered in the many wildfires raging along the west coast. One family in Jamul, California, has lost most of their earthly possessions to the Valley Fire — but thankfully, not their four-legged friends.
Hyslop Horse Haven is a place for abused horses to live out their days at a ranch in the California hills, a short drive from San Diego.
“We are a horse rescue!!” the Hyslop Horse Haven Facebook page states. “I teach lessons to help support the care of these sweet souls.”
Generally a tranquil location, the scene looks otherworldly now, scarred with burn marks and ash.
Patty Hyslop, the owner of the haven, nearly died with her hooved charges, being the last person to evacuate — but it was a price she was willing to pay. Thankfully, she and her rescued horses are alive, but her facilities are gone.
“Now it’s just ash,” she said, speaking to KSWB-TV. “It’s so sad … It was one of the scariest things that we’ve ever been through.”
“Picturing when I saw those hundred-foot flames coming at us was that we were gonna have — I was going to come back the next day to dead horses or severely burnt horses. And if they had died, I think I would’ve died with them. My heart would’ve just broke.”
While Hyslop’s home was spared, sheds full of tack, feed and medication went up like kindling. Trailers and cars are now just burned-out shells.
Many volunteers work at the haven, caring for horses and helping with training and outreach. Hyslop’s niece Hope Gilces is just one of them, and she said her shed was worth a small fortune.
“My shed alone, there was probably $10,000 worth of tack and medications, feed, everything inside, and it’s just all gone,” she said.
The ranch also provided lessons for kids, and many locals are fond of the haven and its inhabitants.
“Without equipment for riding and for caring for these horses she won’t be able to continue rescuing horses or providing kids with the experience of loving and working with horses,” the GoFundMe page for the haven states. “The ranch is going to be in need of feed, medicine, care equipment, and all items needed for riding lessons (saddles, blankets, tack, etc).”
“They will need to rebuild storage units and replace machinery that didn’t survive the fire. Please consider helping out to somebody who gives their best to the Jamul community!”
So far, the fundraiser has raised over $12,000, though the haven recently found out their insurance will not be covering more than “a small fraction” of what is needed.
In the meantime, those who frequented the haven in its heyday are now pitching in to get it usable again, and the community putting in time and work so the horses have a safe place to come back to.
“These kids and parents are helping clean up the ranch,” read one update on the GoFundMe page. “From wiping soot off corral bars to mucking out stalls they want to make the ranch safe to get the horses home.”
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