I was in my art studio when I got the call…
“We’re evacuating Stonepine.” Lauren speaks calmly. I’m stunned but not surprised, if that makes sense. The old oak forest, dry grasses and undergrowth are fuel for a random lightning strike. Lauren continues, “The fire is six miles away. How far away are you?” “I’m in Pacific Grove.” Lauren is decisive, “We’ll load Encore! and take her to Steinbeck Equine Veternary Clinics in Salinas. We’ll be there in thirty minutes.”
My own horse trailer stands idle at Stonepine threatened by encroaching fire. I jump in my truck and drive half an hour to Steinbeck Equine Clinics just a couple hundred yards east of highway 68, near where the River Fire is ranging to the southwest. Encore! has already arrived and is in the mare barn. I wait for an attendant, fill out paperwork, and then go to see Encore!. Horses know. They know when there is danger. Encore! is subdued and affectionate. She seems to ask “Are we OK?”
Encore! just recently learned to trailer under the masterful skill of Ramon Becerra. She just recently moved to Stonepine and now she’s moved to an equine clinic while smoke fills the sky and evacuations everywhere are speedily underway. I stay with Encore! for a time, then drive back to Pacific Grove. However, on the way out the driveway of the clinic I see billowing flames in the distance. I turn around and notify the staff.
“Yes, we have our eye on it. We’ll let you know if anything changes.”
I continue on back to Pacific Grove and choke up as I see horse trailers coming and going, all working to save livestock from the rapidly expanding River and Carmel fires.
The next morning I call the clinic and Encore! has been moved to a place in Gilroy. Finally, I find out she’s moved again and not sure where. Then I get a call from Ashly who tells me Encore! has been taken to her mom’s house in Hollister, but will have to find another place in the next day or two…
The sky is getting progressively darker and it’s morning. I watch the news and see that alternatives for Encore! narrow. I remember Susan Ashbrook’s generous offer when the fire first broke out that she would come pick up Encore! and take her back to Lompoc. I call Susan.
“Can I take you up on your offer? It’s out of control here and any options I had are up in smoke!”
Susan says she’ll leave after lunch. True to her word she arrives at 4:00 p.m. in Hollister and we load up Encore! for another evacuation to Lompoc. This time it’s to the ultimate horse spa! Susan is the creator of EquineVIP Shampoo and Conditioner, and rides horses that shine in the dressage arena.
As fire crews work to tame the flames of this perfect storm of disastrous conditions, I hope that all livestock and wildlife find unique sanctuary from this devastating fire event.
Friends in the time of fire are precious. Encore! is still in Lompoc enjoying her naps, her full bin of hay, exercise in the round pen and all the amenities of Susan’s equine spa.