JDS Paint Horses wishes to say THANK YOU to all the wonderful people who either came to our rescue or attempted to help us evacuate our ranch. Many friends and a few strangers were turned back by road blocks. If it wasn't for the quick wit of Jackie Baker and her friend Mike Wilcox with the Norco Animal Rescue group I don't know what we would have done.

  Our ordeal may not be unique, many people will have similar experiences to share. HOWEVER, I can say we were the ONLY people allowed to drive on the 1-15 freeway Monday night at around 11.00 PM.........

Monday October 22, 2007

I received the call to evacuate around 2.00 pm. The first thing I did, with help from Kristen Grove, was put halters and lead ropes on all the horses. We moved the mares out of the pasture and tied them up in the round pen. Next was to get my children and dogs loaded into my Mother's truck and send them south. Go to Vista, go to Camp Pendleton,  just GO......The last thing  my Mother said was,  NO HEROICS.......

We have 19 horses, which includes 2 stallions, 3 weanlings, 9 pregnant mares and 5 open mares. Since we only have a 2 horse trailer, I had to decide who would go first and who would have to wait for help to arrive. We loaded one of the stallions and my daughter's show mare and took them to AP-Ranch first.  Once our trailer came back we loaded the other stallion and another mare and parked them in the driveway, ready to go at a moments notice. 

By the time we received the reverse 911 call the freeway leading to us had already been closed. My calls for help were answered by many of my closest friends, but all met the road blocks and nobody was able to get to us. One call our veterinarian made on our behalf went to a wonderful women named Renee from the De Luz Area. She headed our way and was able to get thru the back roads. We loaded the 3 heaviest pregnant mares into her trailer.  The plan was to take my girls to her ranch in DeLuz first, from there they would be transferred to Pam and Todd Croupe's trailer and taken up the back roads to their ranch in La Cresta.

In the mean time, The Norco Animal Rescue group, lead by Superintendent Renee Power (City of Norco-Animal Control Department) was coming to our aid with the help of a police escort. While loading the 3 mares into Renee's trailer another Animal Control officer mysteriously appeared from  nowhere. She said there was 9 trailers staged down the road just waiting for the word to come in. I followed my girls up the driveway and down the road a ways. When we rounded the corner, my eyes filled with tears, there was a highway patrol officer directing traffic around a line of horse trailers ...These's were MY HEROS, these were MY TRAILERS, they were here for MY HORSES...The sense of relief was so overwhelming. As I watched my hopes for the future (next years foals by Mr Tramp) drive past me in a stranger's trailer, reality hit me head on....MY GOD, this is really happening........

One by one, trailers came down the driveway. Calmly and quietly all of the horses were loaded and taken back to the staging area. When the last foal was loaded, I looked around to a completely empty ranch. I can't put that feeling into words. No horses, No dogs, No children, smoke in the air, ash falling all around. My home, My life, My World was changing......

BY 4.30 pm

We followed the last trailer up our driveway and to the staging area down the street.  The Rescue group had other horses to evacuate, from our area, so we pulled around them and went on to the evacuation location, Camp Pendleton's Rodeo Grounds. We arrived at Camp Pendleton 2 hours ahead of the horses. By the time they got there, the word was starting to go around that Camp Pendleton might need to evacuate as well. The horses stood quiet in the trailers for another 2 hours before the final discussion was made to relocate to another evacuation location in Murrieta.

We pulled out of the rodeo grounds at about 10.30pm. Being lead by San Diego County Animal Control Officer Kalani Hudson, We had 7 trucks and trailers, loaded with our horses. There were 6 trucks and trailers in line first, next came our car with myself and my husband, behind us was My mother in her Truck with our 9 year old daughter and 11 year old son AND our 7 Jack Russell Terriers in their crates in the back of the truck, followed by the 7th truck and trailer... We were allowed to go thru the road blocks on hwy 76. I could see the hill ahead of us glowing but was not prepared for the scene around the bend. We crossed over the 1-15 overpass and turned onto the freeway the entire valley was on fire. For the next 5 miles we drove thru HELL, Flames on both sides of the highway and on the center medium in spots.......Twice during that 5 mile drive, the wind was blowing flames and burning embers across 3 of the 4 lanes of  the highway. I have never been so scared in my life. The hardest part was NOT being in the same car with my Mother and Children.

To say the LORD was with us would be an understatement!!!!!!

We pulled into the evacuation locate in Murrieta close to midnight. All the horses came off the trailers just as calm and quiet as they went in . Even the foals seemed to just be having a good old time. They stood in those trailers for 7 hours without dinner......

The best thing I did for my horses was to teach them ALL how to hurry up and wait...Stand tied, anywhere, everywhere and for no good reason at all, but just do it.  EVEN my foals are taught to tie at a very early age....It's a foundation lesson they will take with them thru their entire life. My program worked and this experience has validated it.

2 Horses stayed at AP Ranch-5 stayed in La Cresta, and 12 went to Animal's First in Murrieta

The best blessing of all was the hospitality shown to us by the Croupe family. They not only helped evacuate our horses, but they took all of us into their home. For 5 days- 3 Adults, 2 children, 5 horses, 7 Jack Russell's, and 1 VERY LARGE Great Pyrenees dog all became new honorary members of the Croupe family of  La Cresta.

Thank you to all our wonderful friends and family who called and left messages. You opened your hearts, your homes, and your thoughts and Prayers to us and we are truly THANKFUL for all your support.

We can't say it enough, and we probably won't stop, so get used to it...THANK YOU

We have returned home, and by the grace of GOD we have a home to return to.  All the horses are back home and life is starting to return to normal again. The kids have returned to school and boy do they have a story to tell.

On a personal note:

I must say I have a different perspective of my THINGS now. When your faced with the question, "What do you take and what do you leave behind? Suddenly what REALLY Matters becomes so very clear. If your fortunate enough to return to the STUFF that was left behind, it doesn't seem to have the same value as it did before the choice was made to leave it behind.  Maybe that's part of HIS plan? Separate the GOOD from the BAD-Separate the Must have from the Don't Really need? At least that has been my personal experience.

Thank you again....Diana Stewart



JDS Paint Horses

 Specializing in beautiful paint horses and English/Irish "SHORTY JACK" Russell Terriers


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