Horse community rides to the rescue
There can be little doubt about the collective passion of the local horse community after what's occurred during the wildfires threatening Molalla, Colton, Silverton and even Canby.
As flames encroached on farms and stables all over the area, members of the Arabian horse community rallied to help — and they weren't alone. The result has been the saving of hundreds of horses throughout the area with their evacuation to safety. But that's only part of the tale.
Getting the horses and other livestock to safety also meant there would be a bigger need for feed, bedding and other items, needs Amy Pike and a group of like-minded folks have been working hard to meet since it all began last week.
"We are still gathering supplies for the horses," said Pike. "We've made some deliveries to places like Canby, Molalla, Oregon City, Hubbard, Aurora and Wilsonville. Basically, if you're north of Woodburn, I've been answering calls."
Pike said there's a core group of people — Kira Millard, Luke Murphy, Zac Davis, Grace Wagner, Michael Aguilera, Amber Davis, Tasha Sager, Ryan Sager, Eva Clark and Doc Dockery — who got the ball rolling on evacuations and care for the horses and other animals. But she added that more people have come to help, noting that as many as 20 "rigs" have been hauling supplies to keep animals fed and healthy since it started.
And her group got a big helping hand when the Arabian Horsemen's Distress Fund came calling with offers of aid.
"They saw what we were doing on Facebook and reached out to us," said Pike. "They found us."
And with that backing, the rescue and feed program got rolling.
Pike said Sept. 7-8 were truly chaotic as it took time to get organized. Her friend Kelly Holder in Molalla let her know that she was taking animals on her property, but then the fire started knocking on her door.
"She put out a call on Tuesday that she had horses to evacuate," said Pike. "That generated an incredible outpouring of community support. That was pretty hairy to go into her farm, it was unpleasant and nervy. Tuesday was all about moving her to a safer location. We've actually evacuated her twice — I have three of her horses on my property here in Newberg."
Initially, the big push was to get everyone out of danger. Then, the AHDF contacted Pike last Thursday, Sept. 10, to offer help. With that, she got her team together and the emphasis became feeding and caring for the horses and other animals they'd helped evacuate.
As of Sept. 14, the Arabian Horsemen's Distress Fund had spent more than $2,400 on feed and supplies, as well as helped 12 families to evacuation sites.
Pike and her team have been delivering hay — in both small quantities and large — on a near-constant basis since the fires started forcing horse evacuations.
"We have about six tons of hay and have made deliveries out of that. We've also had people come by and pick up bales," she said.
The hay is valley grass and orchard grass, as well as something special: tested low-sugar orchard grass hay.
"This was a really special donation," said Pike. "As horses get older, some don't tolerate the sugar as well, so this is pretty special."
And through the long nights and long drives to evacuation sites, Pike has been made keenly aware of the cohesiveness of the horse community in the area.
"Most of us in our little group are involved with Arabian horses, but frankly, it was if you've got horses, you showed up and helped," she explained. "We had to evacuate the Diamond B training facility in Newberg and we had people from the Arabian world, the Morgan world, the quarter horse world, reining and working cow horse worlds showing up to help. We hardly ever see each other in real life, but when the chips were down, they showed up to help keep everyone safe. That's the culture of it … it's amazing."
For now, with hands to help and national organization offering assistance, the mission goes on for Pike and her volunteers.
To make a donation to the Arabian Horsemen's Distress Fund, go to https://horsemensdistressfund.networkforgood.com/projects/108981-the-fire-fund. To find out more about the AHDF, check out https://horsemensdistressfund.com/about-ahdf/.
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