Thanksgiving has come early to my corner of Orange County, and I’m not talking about the turkey dinner and fall décor. I have so much gratitude and awe in my heart for the way things turned out when my barn family lost our equestrian center in Canyon Fire 2. I finally had a chance to see some of the area first hand. It wasn’t pretty. But still, I’m grateful.
Thank You Firefighters!
What I noticed driving the last stretch of road about 1/2 mile from the park where the barn is/was situated was a huge banner on the corner that was a thank you to the firefighters. They did an amazing job. Literally on the right side of the road where it’s uninhabited foothills, you can see the charred ground and the random small shrubs are black. On the opposite side of the road is a subdivision. Large trees line the back yards which stand like sentinels guarding their red tile roof homes. The fire was so close to that neighborhood, yet it was untouched.
I read on the Nextdoor app that the community is hosting a thank you pancake breakfast to honor the firefighters. What a great idea!
Thank You Trainer and Assistants!
When I knew Knight was safe I knew it was because my trainer and her assistants were on the forefront of executing our evacuation. I thanked her then, and I keep on thanking. When I wrote her a second check for this month (because the first one was burned in the fire) I added an extra amount and said she should go get a massage or a nice dinner with her hubby to which she said, “I’ll get a massage!” If anyone deserves it, it’s her.
I overheard someone give huge kudos to my trainer and her assistants for acting cooly under pressure. I think the phrase I heard was they “acted with urgency” but were not excitable/stressy.
Thank You Trailer Driver!
When the fire situation was still fresh, I cried because I didn’t know who to thank for actually leading Knight to the trailer and who to thank for giving Knight a ride in the trailer. I asked my trainer and one of the assistants who was there and they both said they didn’t know. I’m sure that day was a blur, so I get why and how knowing the exact details would be forgotten.
I had one clue from one of the junior riders. When I got to the our new barn the first day I was there, walking around trying to locate my friends and my horse she said, “I got Knight from the trailer when he arrived here.”
“Oh! Who was driving the truck?” She didn’t know.
“Was it a big trailer or a little trailer?”
“It was big, maybe like a seven horse?” Then she said she though it was M’s trailer. I have never met M, but he trailers for some of the shows. I asked if she had his contact info.
“I just have this need to thank the person.”
Later that night the teen texted me the phone number and with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes I composed a text that said something to the effect like you don’t know me, but I’m told you were the person who trailered my horse to safety. I am texting to thank you for your kindness and courage and I have so much gratitude and I had to share.
More thanks are in order to the person who snatched my saddle and bridle from the tack room that ultimately burned to the ground with the exception of one corner (which happens to be the corner where my tack trunk is). I’m not sure who that was, but I have a hunch.
Thank You Big and Small Companies with Heart!
And then there are all the thank yous to the extremely generous community of equine-related brands I contacted to share our story of this crisis. I heard back from the majority of them asking what they could do to help. I plan to do an upcoming blog post with proper, obvious thank yous for the items sent to help us out.
Thank You Temporary Barn!
The equestrian center we moved all of our 30 horses to on the day of the fire has been so accommodating. They let us stay the first week free. They are waiving board security deposits and waiving a 30 days’ notice. And they even have Halloween candy in the office which is a nice touch. One thing I love about this place is that they actually weigh the hay they feed. So Knight will get an exact amount regardless of shape or size of the flakes of hay.
Thank You Horse Friends!
Many horse friends I’ve known in real life for years as well as people I’ve only known through blogging and have never met in real life (yet!) have reached out with private messages to check in and see how we’re doing and what we need. That has been so incredibly sweet and helpful. In the first few days right after this happened, I think being able to tell my story was therapeutic.
I was contacted by Noelle Floyd Style to do an interview as an eye witness. They wrote a great piece about the fires in both Northern and Southern California. I was humbled by that experience and felt sheepish since I technically wasn’t an eye witness (except for the smoke I saw on the freeway.) But I was happy to share what I knew and they were kind enough to link to our Go Fund Me for my barn family.
Another awesome friend/business owner used her artistic skills and social media presence to create buttons to benefit both NorCal and SoCal equestrians. It is so cool to feel cared about by so many.
Thank you Family!
When I called my parents in Illinois to tell them the news, I think they were most concerned about my house. They knew Knight was safe and about 10 miles away from the fire, but they were trying to understand the geography of where I live in relation to where the equestrian center was because it’s only 5 miles away. I totally get it. After they knew my home was safe they wanted to know what they could do to help.
My hubby Mark helped me transport new shavings to Knight in his new stall since the delivery from our feed and supply store wouldn’t be coming for a few more days. We had to take his vehicle since my car doesn’t have much trunk space. He helped me empty the three big bags (or are they bales?) of shavings into the stall and Knight proceeded to walk right into the middle of it and urinate. It was almost on cue and really quite hilarious. I am grateful for my parental and hubby support!
Thank you Lord!
Many of you know that I’m a Christian and my faith is important to me. I firmly believe God played a role in protecting our horses, the people and the nearby homes that day. There’s a passage in the Bible that tells that God knows when a sparrow falls from a tree, so I have to believe He knows and cares when a fire is threatening. I don’t have the answer to why our community was relatively unscathed and so many up north lost so much. It’s a good thing this is a blog about horses and not theology! I don’t have that answer, but I do know that I have gratitude, even in the midst of loss.
Stuff is just stuff and can be replaced, and quite honestly, some of the items I had in my tack trunk I probably didn’t NEED. I can replace what is necessary in time.
Thank you, reader, for reading all about these various thank yous. I hope I didn’t bore you too much, but I just had to publicly state all the good and kindness. I could go on and on and thank the unknown Good Samaritans who just started showing up and walking horses out of the fiery park and up the steep hill to the Albertson’s parking lot where trailers started showing up. I could thank the park rangers for closing off the trails to keep people safe from compromised trees, etc., etc. But I’m going to end this for now and close by asking you, Thanksgiving is almost upon us, for what are you grateful this season?
Leave your gratitude comment for us! Let’s celebrate our holiday early!
Want to Stay in the Loop on this Story?
If you are not on my email list for very important horse lovers, I would love to have you sign up. You’ll get the inside scoop about fun new products and other horsey inspiration via twice-a month emails. To get on the list simply click here.