For about two decades, Patty Hyslop has been opening the doors of her rescue, Hyslop Horse Haven to horses that are neglected, beaten, and abused. These horses meant everything to Patty, who lives with Multiple Sclerosis. The animals helped her cope with the pain of her condition while they would get a chance to live in a sanctuary where they are loved and are safe.
However, twenty years of the love and hard work she poured into the sanctuary burned down to ashes after the Valley Fire burning east of San Diego swept through the property in Jamul, California.
Patty recalled seeing the ravaging flames move closer and closer towards her ranch. Even though she desperately tried to save every single one of the horses, she had no choice but to leave a few of them behind.
“The officers were like ‘you’re going to die if you don’t leave’ and I said I don’t care, I’m going to stay with my horses,'” said Patty, as quoted by ABC 10.
Having done all that she could, Patty was eventually the last person to leave the ranch with the hope that she would not have to return to find her horses burned to death. “I was so scared I was going to come home to burned and dead horses,” Patty said.
Thankfully, all the horses left behind had miraculously survived, but the sheds and other essential equipment were completely destroyed.
“It was one of the scariest things that we’ve ever been through,” Patty told FOX 5.
Her worst fear was coming back to the corpses of the horses but was glad they survived. As she recalled those moments of watching the fire, she said, “When I saw those hundred-foot flames coming at us… I (thought I) was going to come back the next day to dead horses or severely burnt horses. And if they had died, I think I would’ve died with them. My heart would have just broken.”
Hoping to recover from the damage caused by the fire, a GoFundMe page was set up to raise funds and to get Hyslop Horse Haven back on its feet. “By some miracle the homes and all 20 horses were saved but sadly all tack sheds and equipment were lost,” the fundraising page said. “Without equipment for riding and for caring for these horses she won’t be able to continue rescuing horses or providing kids with the experience of loving and working with horses.”
While speaking to FOX 5, Patty’s niece, Hope Gilces said about the damage caused by the destructive Valley Fire, “My shed alone, there was probably $10,000 worth of tack and medications feed everything inside and it’s just all gone.”
The devastation caused by the fire has left them needing food, medicine, items required for providing horse-riding lessons, and other equipment that were all lost in the fire. Even the storage units would need rebuilding. Despite all the damage caused and years of work brought to the ground, Patty is still glad that her horses survived.
“I think it was a lot of luck,” Patty told ABC 10. “I think the horses, between that and God blessing us with horse angels, yeah.”
The ranch will still be operating with whatever they have and Patty hopes to see people, especially kids, come back to the sanctuary and show the horses some love. “These kids come to me and say I want to grow up to be like you, I want to know as much as you do, I want to help horses, too,” Patty added. “Oh it just fills my heart with joy.”