These guys helped evacuate some 16 horses, a bunch of goats, three sheep and a pig while the smoke was so thick they couldn't really see the road. Left to right: Bryan Lee, T.J. Boch, Joe Scanlon and Mike LeMaster (aka Cowboy Mike).
When the firefighter told David and Kathy Coey of Miner’s Trail Rd. they needed to leave, Kathy said, “I’m not leaving without my horses.” They have seven. The firefighter had them sign a release effectively saying they’d been warned.
This was Monday afternoon, just after the Corral Fire started. By then their four dogs and some of their belongings were loaded in the truck, and they could hear the heat coming down in waves, rattling a tin roof. Kathy decided to turn the horses out, believing that they would move on their own away from the fire.
But almost as soon as she let some of them out the gate, she started worrying that they would go the wrong way and end up getting trapped. So the Coeys and some neighbors caught the loose horses and got them back in the pen. The fire was getting closer and the heat hotter. She was just about to start cutting fences and leading the horses across fields down to Green Meadow.
But she didn’t have to. Because some strangers showed up.
Not the bad kind of stranger. The good kind. The kind who had a big stock trailer.
There was only one problem now: three of the Coeys’ horses had never been in a trailer.
Kathy says she told the men—she wasn’t quite sure of any of their names—about the horses’ lack of trailer experience, and one of them leaned in to her and said, “No problem, lady. We got a horse whisperer.”
That crew of strangers promptly loaded the Coeys’ horses and saved them all.
They also saved nine other horses in the area, a bunch of goats, three sheep, and a pig.
One of the strangers—the “horse whisperer” noted above—was Joe Scanlon, a horse trainer and owner of an operation called Chicken S Stables. Scanlon, 55, says he and some friends had the trailer and just decided to lend a hand to people who needed help. The others included Bryan Lee, T.J. Boch and Mike LeMaster (aka Cowboy Mike).
Scanlon says it’s an exaggeration to call him a horse whisperer.
When asked, then, how he was able to load the Coeys’ horses into a trailer when they had never been in a trailer before and were scared to boot, he says, “I think they wanted to leave the fire anyway.”
The Coeys say the crew loaded them so that each inexperienced horse went in between two experienced ones.
Scanlon says they had already made two other trips into the area evacuating animals, and that the last trip out was difficult.
“It was smoky. We couldn’t even see out the truck and we had 13 horses in the trailer. We didn’t know where the road was,” Scanlon says. “But Bryan did a good job driving.”
Scanlon says another of their friends, Chad Vincent, arranged for pasture with Brenda Syness.
The Coeys expressed a lot of gratitude not only to emergency responders but to the strangers. Their horses were fed and watered and well taken care of, even though, as Kathy says, “I didn’t even know where they were until Wednesday night.”
Though they saved 16 horses, Scanlon says he feels bad they didn’t get all the horses in the area out.
These guys might be used to wrangling 16 horses, but to most people, that still sounds like a hell of a lot of horses.