The fast-moving wildfires in California meant that Lauren Mesaros, a local nurse who has three beloved horses, had minutes to make critical decisions. Gusting winds kept changing the direction and intensity of the fires, and when evacuation orders were issued, Mesaros had to find a safe haven for all her horses immediately.
A friend, Carol Spear, lived close by and was able to fit two of the three horses in her trailer. Time was not on Mesaros’ side as the flames swept closer, so she thought outside the box and decided to load her miniature horse, Stardust, into the back seat of her ’01 Honda Accord.
“We looked at each other and looked at the mini horse and said, ‘Whelp, put him in the Honda,'” Mesaros said.
It took a little coaxing to get Stardust into the back seat. Mesaros dangled a carrot on one side of the car while Spears gently nudged the horse from the other side.
“He just went in like a big dog. As a horse owner we didn’t think twice about it. It’s like putting your dog or cat in the car,” Mesaros explained. She did have concerns about Stardust being in the backseat of the car, including whether he would get motion sickness or jump into the front seat. To calm the horse’s nerves Mesaros sang to him, and it seemed to do the trick. All three horses are safe and now resting at Windhorse Ranch in Sebastopol.
The story of Stardust’s rescue became an instant hit when her sister-in-law, Cindy posted a picture, a neighbor took, on Facebook of Stardust in the backseat of the car. It was shared over 17,000 times!
But Stardust was not alone. Two other people affected by the wildfires, Judy McAdoo and Holly Nielsen, shared in the comments that they had the same idea and loaded their personal horses and donkey in their vehicles and headed for safety.
Horses are prey animals and claustrophobic by nature. When danger strikes, their initial reaction is fight or flight. Since there is no way for a horse to fight fire, they run. It is important to get horses out of the area when disaster strikes…even if that means loading them into your car.
Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast that resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.
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