Horses to help

Apr 102011
Authors: Erin Udell

In the early morning hours of April 1, flames from the Crystal Fire climbed up within one mile of northern Colorado residents Cindy and Jeff Anderson’s Tip Top Guest Ranch, leading one CSU professor and several students to rescue and care for 40 horses in the blaze’s aftermath.

After receiving a call from Jeff Anderson at around 1 a.m., senior animal science major Katlin Hornig began asking for help from friends in the agricultural community who would be able to haul horses from the ranch to a safe location.

“When someone calls and asks you to help get horses from a fire, you just say yes,” said Jason Bruemmer, the CSU animal science professor who answered Hornig’s call and drove to the ranch to help.

By the time Bruemmer arrived, the students had helped load the horses and take them back down Rist Canyon.

“It was more surreal than anything else,” Hornig said. “Your number one instinct is to get as many people and as many horses out as fast as you can.”

With the animals safely away from the fire, Bruemmer helped arrange their stay at CSU’s Foothills Campus, which had pens for the ranch’s 37 horses and three percheron draft horses.

“It means a lot,” Jeff Anderson said of the student involvement. “And it really showed me what kind of school CSU is.”

After preparing the pens with the campus’ horse caretaker, Hornig drove to Masonville, Colo., where she helped residents transport their livestock away from the fire, eventually ending the ordeal at around 9 a.m.

“It was an all-nighter that just kept going,” Hornig said. “But it was worth it.”

According to the Poudre Fire Authority, the Crystal Fire has destroyed 2,940 acres, 13 homes and is about 95 percent contained.

But with conditions improving at the Tip Top Guest Ranch, the Anderson’s horses were eventually taken back to Bellvue on Thursday morning after four days at CSU.

“They took good care of them and helped us out tremendously,” Jeff Anderson said. “It spoke very largely to me, and it’s just hard to put it into words.”

Senior Reporter Erin Udell can be reached at

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