November 25, 2015 is one date Roseworthy resident, Kylie Kemp will never
Kylie, an administration manager at Two Wells-based company CIAA, had four horses roaming in her recently reaped paddock when the catastrophic Pinery fire blew through her property.
While the house was saved, and Kylie, along with husband Andrew and young son Thomas, were thankfully not trapped in its path, the same couldn’t be said for their beloved horses.
All the horses were caught in the flames and unfortunately, a week after the fire, their young pony and prospective roping horse Delta, had to be put down.
The other three horses, including Kylie’s fearsome barrel racing mount, Wyatt, were rushed to the Adelaide Plains Equine Clinic, (APEC) where vet Elizabeth Herbert and her team quickly got to work to save their lives.
Looking back, Kylie says there are some things she would have done differently.
“That day will forever be in my mind as one of the worst days of my life,” she said.
“I made some mistakes and if ever I was in that situation again I know now what I would do differently.”
Kylie says keeping aware of weather conditions and the potential ‘what if situations’ should be a priority for all property owners.
A bushfire action plan is a must.
“I had let the horses out to graze on the stubble for the day,” she explained.
“I hadn’t seen the weather and if I had of known the conditions forecast for that day I would never have let them out.”
Trying to catch her scared and frightened horses with a catastrophic fire bearing down was impossible so Kylie opened the gates to her arena, grabbed her sons’ dog and decided to leave.
Kylie ended up in Kapunda with a friend and was not able to return home for several hours.
When she did it was with a heavy heart.
“When I saw my beautiful horses my knees buckled and I just cried.
“The guilt that I had to leave them and this was my fault was overwhelming.
“The next few hours, days, even months are a blur.”
Kylie’s grey horse Ash was by far the worst, with burns to around 85 percent of her body.
There were many times she thought ‘what am I doing?’ and it would be kinder to put her to sleep.
“But then I would go see her and she would give me a neigh and prick her poor burnt ears forward and I would know that she hadn’t given up on life so how could I give up on her?,” she said.
“Wyatt also had some ups and downs but like Ash he also never gave up, and a few days before Christmas they got to come home.
“This was by far the best present ever!”
Wyatt is Kylie’s competitive barrel racing horse and remarkably, almost 12 months to the day after the Pinery fire, the pair competed at the prestigious Equitana event in Melbourne on November 18 having qualified as one of Australia’s top 25 barrel racers.
Ash is still receiving treatment on one of her legs but according to Kylie has now found her ‘forever’ home.
“She is an amazing creature and I personally think she is Australia’s toughest horse and would be worthy of Australian of the Year,” she said.
“The Pinery fire of 2015 is something that is going to live with me forever, the scars are deep but we will be ok.”