Thoroughbred trainer Joe Herrick managed to save a horse from the California fires, and now they're both recovering from injuries together.
When fire descended upon San Luis Rey Downs on Dec. 7, the scene was like something out of a nightmare. Without adequate time to evacuate the 450 racehorses housed in the stables, grooms and trainers resorted to turning the horses loose. Thoroughbred trainer Joe Herrick was one right in the midst of the horrific scene, and now he and racehorse Lovely Finish are recovering together.
Herrick broke Lovely Finish himself when she was a yearling, and both he and the filly were burned by a fireball when he was bringing her out of her stall. Lovely Finish began to race around the grounds with the other horses, but when she saw Herrick, she ran over to him and let him catch her.
Herrick was burned on 23 percent of his body. He also lost six of the seven horses in his program to the fire, along with tack and countless other items. He spent 12 days in the burn unit at UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest, then returned to the stables to care for Lovely Finish.
Now, Herrick is helping Lovely Finish to recover - and he's recovering right along with her. Herrick cleans the filly's stall, bathes her, and hand walks her. He hopes that the three-year-old filly will be able to race again, and would love to see her make it to the winner's circle.
Thoroughbred trainer Herrick had nightmares after the fire, and it's likely that neither he nor Lovely Finish will ever forget that horrific day. But they've both proven that they're survivors, and they're determined to move on - side by side, every step of the way.
Has a horse or animal ever helped you recover from an event or injury? Tell us about it in the comments.
WATCH NOW: Ginny's Incredible Adoption Story
Enjoy the outdoors?
Sign up for daily stories delivered straight to your inbox.