“We’ve counted, unfortunately, 150 horses or more that have been found [dead], were killed, or had to be put down,”
In a sobering count, more than 150 horses died as a result of the violent tornado that swept through Moore, Okla., on Monday. The number represents the entire community of farms that sit on the southern border of Oklahoma City, including Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses who were based at Celestial Acres Training Center.
Several organizations coordinating horse-rescue efforts, as well as local veterinarians and horse owners themselves, determined the number, said Joe Lucas, executive vice president of the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma.
“We’ve counted, unfortunately, 150 head or more that have been found [dead], were killed, or had to be put down,” Lucas said. “And that’s not just Celestial Acres. That’s the Moore area. That’s what we’ve gotten up to.”
Lucas said a hotline is being set up through the state Department of Agriculture for owners to inquire about lost horses. In addition, there are plans to post photos taken of both surviving and deceased horses for the purpose of identification. The Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association are helping with the process, Lucas said.
The team Lucas is working with has located 18 live horses in the Moore area, including five racehorses who were identified by their lip tattoos and sent to Remington Park in Oklahoma City on Wednesday.
“I think we’ve found everything that can be found that’s out there alive,” Lucas said.
Lucas said another 10 rescued horses were sent to facilities in Moore, and an additional three were shipped to Heritage Place, the auction house in Oklahoma City that has opened its doors to displaced horses.
“Horses that have fairly minor injuries that are treatable, they can spend the night for a few days until things get settled,” said Spence Kidney, general manager of Heritage Place. “Plus, if some are not sure where their horses are, it’s a central place to identify those horses. We’re just trying to chip in a little. It’s a terrible situation.”
Kidney said Wednesday the facilities received a miniature stallion, a paint horse, and a small gray mare who appears to be a Welsh pony.
The Oklahoma Thoroughbred Retirement Program is providing support to horses displaced by the storm, including helping owners with some of the medical costs for the treatment of injured animals. The organization, which is accepting donations through its website, http://www.otrp.info, also is seeking feed and equipment donations.
“We’re raising money to take care of the horses themselves,” said Chris Kirk, a director of the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Retirement Program.
Kirk said one of the most heartwarming stories during this difficult time was the rescue of an unraced 3-year-old Thoroughbred filly named Sasha’s Image. She was found at Celestial Acres on Tuesday evening, more than 24 hours after the storm hit. Sasha’s Image was heard whinnying from beneath some barn doors.
“From what I was told, she was laying flat on her side,” Kirk said. “Her ears were laying flat over the top of her head. They got her up, and her ears were still flat. They said the next morning her ears were pricked up again. She was in a lot of distress, but she’s doing better.”
Tornado hits Durant’s farm in Texas
Tom Durant, the all-time leading owner at Lone Star Park near Dallas, experienced significant damage to his farm inGranbury, Texas, last Wednesday due to a tornado. Durant lost nine horses in the storm, five of them yearlings from the first crop of his multiple stakes winner Sing Baby Sing.
“We took a direct hit,” said Jack Bruner, private trainer for Durant.
Bruner said there was no loss of human life at the farm, but the barns were destroyed, as were four tractors, stores of hay, and “countless miles of fence.” Bruner said he has yet to locate the farm’s six-horse trailer. He said 15 of Durant’s horses remain in the care of Equine Sports Medicine Surgery, an equine clinic in Weatherford, Texas.
“I cannot express how much they’ve done,” he said. “We could not have done it without them.”
Bruner said the majority of Durant’s mares and foals are based at Lane’s End Texas, while his racing operation is at Lone Star. The farm on Thursday was being cleared. “We’re going to rebuild,” Bruner said.