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  • Українці розповідають про пережите під час війни з росією

    Ukrainians talk about their experiences during the war with russia

    The Cossack performance on a horse

    “A week after evacuation, our stable burned down”: the story of rescuing horses from Kreminna

    Life under fire

    АвторAuthor: Olha Verkalets | Translation: Valentina Mykhaylova

    30 September 2022

    Yehor Semyvolos is an 18-year-old resident of Kreminna, Luhansk region. In 2014, his father Borys founded a riding school “Horse House”. Their stables were located in the forest near Kreminna. During the full-scale invasion, Yegor walked kilometers every day to feed the animals. At the end of April, they managed to evacuate eleven horses when the occupiers began to occupy the city. Journalists of “Monologues of War” investigated the story of animal rescue. 

    My dad used to take me to the horses when I was little. At first I did not like it, but when I started to succeed, I got involved in this business. 

    My father, the owner of the stable, loved horses since childhood. He worked as a director of a collective farm, and he had several horses. Then there was a choice: either to deal with animals or to continue working as a director. It became difficult to combine the two.

    In 2014, we began to develop the horse business, built a stable. First for ourselves, and later our children came to train. The regional equestrian theater taught us combat riding, horse tricks. Over time, we began to give performances. 

    We had many plans. We wanted to expand, build an eco-park, cafes, holiday houses, travel around Ukraine with performances.

    The beginning of a full-scale invasion

    On February 24, we were on vacation with friends and parents in the Carpathians. On the day we planned to return home, a full-scale invasion began. Then somehow we got to Kreminna. 

    At first, there were no thoughts of evacuation. We hoped that like in 2014, a week would pass and everything would be over. But fewer people started coming to us. We mostly worked with teenagers, so parents were afraid to let them go.

    Read also: “I knew that every ride could cost me my leg, arm or even life”. The story of a volunteer from Mykolaiv

    The first two or three weeks we worked as before. There were no shells flying near us, it was quiet. When the shelling started, everything changed. In the morning, at lunch and in the evening we went to the horses. We took them out, fed them, watered them, brought them back and ran home.

    The stable is located on the other side of the city from our house. Every day we walked 5-10 km, because there was no petrol at the gas station. It was not hard for me. I was more worried about the horses than about my health. I did not think about the fact that a shell could fall near me.

    Yegor Semivolos

    There were no problems with food in the city, it was often delivered: both as humanitarian aid and to shops. There was water, but the light was often turned off. 

    The most memorable thing during my stay in Kreminna was when I woke up at four in the morning because it was bright because of the “Grads”.  My aunt and some of my friends stayed in the city. I keep in touch with them. They say that everything is slowly recovering: shops are opening, there are jobs for people. 

    Evacuation from Kreminna

    My older brother’s wife was pregnant. They gave birth to a girl in July. My parents were worried about her and one day they could not stand it. I woke up from the call at six in the morning, packed my things and we left. It was hard to leave the house, horses. 

    The atmosphere was intense. Russians were already standing near us. Everyone understood that Kreminna was occupied. There were almost no people on the street. If you walked during the day, you would meet one or two people on the way.

    With my family we came to my friend in Lviv. She is engaged in humanitarian aid. Then together we launched an announcement to raise funds for the evacuation of horses. Together with people we raised 150 thousand hryvnias. For a week we were looking for a person who would help to transport the horses. One guy volunteered. Then eleven horses were taken out. At the end of April, we learned that a week after the evacuation, our stable burned down. 

    The other five horses could not be taken because they were already in the occupied territory.  The girls who were involved in the club took the animals to their homes. People helped to build a pasture on the territory of the school, near which the girls live. They have enough grain and hay. 

    First, they took the animals to Dnipro. They stayed there for three weeks until they found a long-term place in the city of Borshchiv in the Ternopil region. They have already become accustomed to everything, they feel at home.

    Horses were evacuated from Kreminna

    Horses were very nervous during the shelling. They tried to break out, run away or break the door frames they were standing in. Now the animals have calmed down. But as soon as we moved them, they were very thin and nervous. Fortunately, all the horses survived, no one was injured.

    So what’s next?

    Now we are trying to develop, restore the stable to give it the status of a children’s equestrian theater, as before. In the future, we plan to move to Mukachevo in the Transcarpathian region, where we were invited. Now we are in a small town, there are few prospects and visitors. Almost no one knows about us, we did not advertise ourselves. In Kreminna in the early years there were also few visitors, so we need to promote ourselves. But over time, everything will happen.

    We hope that by next summer we will be at home. When our city will be returned, we will also return. I think the locals will help us to restore the burnt stable. 

    I used to be interested in how to make a lot of money. And now I don’t care about these papers. We keep on going. To come all this way and give up? We rescued the horses from there for a reason. 

    Чому важливо поширити цю історію?
    Якщо українці не розповідатимуть свій погляд на війну в Україні, світ поступово забуватиме про нас. Натомість цим обов’язково скористаються росіяни. Тому не даймо їм жодного шансу.

    Why is it important to share this story?
    If Ukrainians do not share their views on the war in Ukraine, the world will gradually forget about us. Instead, the Russians will definitely take advantage of this. So let's not give them a chance.

    АвторAuthor: Olha Verkalets | Translation: Valentina Mykhaylova

    Life under fire

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