VACAVILLE, Calif. (KTXL) — A Vacaville man has added something new to his daily routine, taking a horse out for exercise.
At 29 years old, Rob Hicks is a horse owner for the first time.
But Hicks is no stranger to rescuing animals. As part of a group of volunteers, he estimates he evacuated 200 animals from the LNU Lightning Complex fires last month.
“The first three days I did probably 65 to 70 calls,” Hicks told FOX40. “It was just back to back to back. We had to put a couple down with the vet but you can’t save them all, and we tried.”
Hicks never intended to adopt a horse until he was tagged in a Facebook post earlier in the month.
It was about a horse in Grass Valley that survived the Jones Fire but was facing another threat.
“A lady lost her property and she couldn’t care for him anymore,” Hicks explained. “And he was scheduled to go to the slaughterhouse. And right then and there I said, ‘You know what? I’ve got 10 acres at my disposal.’”
The 10 acres in Vacaville belong to some of his very close friends.
“And I said, ‘Karen, I know you said no more horses but I gotta save this one.’” Hicks said.
With the blessing of the Vacaville landowner, Hicks went to pick up the horse.
“I walked right into their pasture, he walked right up to me, gave me a hug,” Hicks recalled. “He nibbled a little bit, which is a sign he’s giving me a kiss, and he knew he was safe. He had his natural instinct saying, ‘This guy’s here to save me.’”
Hicks, a lifelong motocross enthusiast, changed the horse’s name from Alex to Axel.
“I moved on to real horse power,” Hicks said.
Axel is estimated to be somewhere around 15 years old — a mature horse with a new life.
“I’m happy and he’s happy. And that’s what matters,” Hicks said.
When asked about the expense of taking care of a horse and rescuing so many animals, Hicks confirmed it has been an expensive summer. He estimates he burned 1,600 gallons of fuel rescuing animals. If you’d like to help him out, he can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.