Horse owners around the United States are offering support and care for the equine victims of the EF5 tornado, which devastated areas of Oklahoma May 20, though several farms lost animals during the storm.
The Orr Family Farm (Oklahoma City, Okla.) suffered a large amount of damage from the tornado. Owners Dr. Glenn Orr and Tom Orr are still unsure on the exact amount of horses lost, but they estimate the number is near 80. The historical farm, dedicated to agricultural education and family entertainment for the greater Oklahoma City area, reported on their facebook page that four of their ponies survived the storm and are doing well.
The Orr family has set up a hotline where people can leave information about any help they would like to provide, 405.283.2258. They also have a PayPal account for donations.
The 106-acre farm is also home to Celestial Acres, a training facility that lost four barns, an 85’ x 200’ indoor arena, horse walkers, turnouts and paddocks. The Orr family confirmed that 34 of the horses at Celestial Acres survived the tornado and are in excellent condition.
Lando Hite, an exercise rider for trainer Mark Lee, who’s based at Celestial Acres in Moore, told CNN that he attempted to free some of the farm’s horses in the short amount of time he had before the tornado hit. Hite was forced to seek shelter in one of the farm’s stalls, which later collapsed.
A number of other trainers, including Sky and Randall Weidner of Plain as Bay Eventing, rent space at Celestial Acres. The Weidners lost all 12 of their Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses during the tornado, along with their farm equipment. Randall, president of the Minnesota Quarter Horse Racing Association, was preparing to move horses to Canterbury Park (Minn.) in preparation for an upcoming race. The Randall Weidner Catastrophe Trust has been set up through Wells Fargo or donations can be made via PayPal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I want to thank you all for your prayers and offers to help,” wrote Sky on the Plain as Bay facebook page. “At this point I am still in shock and just can’t believe it happened. Randy and I were very lucky we got out in time. We literally had left the farm, and no more than ten minutes later the tornado hit the barn. We are now just trying to cope the best we can. I am heartbroken. All the horses we lost were my ‘children,’ each unique and very special.”
Many local organizations are working to provide animal owners with relief. The Oklahoma City Animal Welfare Division is accepting donations for large and small animals online or in person at 2811 S.E. 29th St. OKC, OK 73129.
Other organizations outside of the immediate area are offering varied forms of support. The American Quarter Horse Association is collecting non-perishable food, toiletries, buckets, shovels and gloves at their headquarters in Amarillo, Texas. The American Morgan Horse Association is also accepting tax-deductible contributions at AMHECT, 4066 Shelburne Rd, Suite 6, Shelburne VT 05482-OK Relief Fund. Fleet of Angels is a transportation network for at-risk horses, and they currently have on-call members prepared to relocate animals. Likewise, the Women’s Horse Industry Network is raising money for horse owners in the area who were affected by the tornado.
Individuals are also connecting through facebook in order to collect resources for those affected by the storm. To contribute, visit the following pages: Now or Never Horse Helpers, Oklahoma Disaster Equine Safe Havens and Red Earth Feed & Tack.