Wildfires Threaten Texas Horses

Monday night, reining horse breeder and trainer Dee Hertig watched a line of wildfires creep closer to her Young County, Texas, ranch. With 12 horses in the pasture, she and husband, Jack, had to think fast to come up with a plan to get their herd out of harm's way.

"The whole horizon was red," Hertig said. "So my husband went out on the tractor in the dark--we knew (the horses would) follow him out of the pasture because they're used to being fed that way."

The couple led the herd to a turnout pen, checked on another five horses stalled in a metal barn, and settled in to wait out the latest rounds of wildfires to sweep across western and central Texas.

Texas Fire Service spokesperson Pat Schaub said some 25 wildfires fueled by 50 mph winds threatened five counties. The fires initially affected an estimated 230,000 acres, and they forced the evacuation of seven communities.

According to Hertig, roads in her area were clogged with vehicles as residents evacuated with their livestock. But when the Young County Sheriff urged the couple to follow suit, they refused.

"I've got 2-year-olds that have never seen a trailer," she said. "Besides, where would we go?"

This morning, Schaub said fires in West Texas were "quiet," but some still threatened Central Texas communities.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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