A lot of stuff happened this weekend.

First, there was the show of course. It was fantastic. I’ll tell you all about it with pictures and video tomorrow, but that’s not the topic of my post today.

Then on Sunday evening, a tornado ripped through the barn where Simon and Roman live. All the horses, people and even the barn cats got through the storm in one piece. We had a few of the pasture board horses with some scrapes, but nothing that merited more than basic wound care. No one would ever call me a holy roller, but it was nothing short of miraculous.

We woke up Sunday morning with a short message on our barn’s Facebook group saying that a tornado had come through in the night, sheds and fencing around the property were gone and “it was a mess.” I drove to the barn with a deep pit in my stomach, because no one had really said anything about the horses. On my drive out, I passed giant trees snapped in half and trailers missing roofs.

When I got to the barn, I ran straight to Simon who nickered to me like he always does from his stall. He was completely unfazed, and ready to go outside. Roman I was more worried about. He’s been living outside (budget cuts) and has been in a temporary pen in between the three barns on the property. I walked out to see him, and saw giant sheets of tin all around his pen. Roman walked over to greet me and happily munched on the treats I offered while I looked over his legs. His legs were as tight as they always are, and there wasn’t a scratch on him. I scratched his neck and told him we were lucky.

Later my trainer’s husband told me that he pulled one of the huge pieces of metal out of Roman’s pen before I got there. Something from the hay barn had blown into his area during the storm. So yes, we were really lucky.

In the middle of horse shows and tornadoes, I saw something on social media that made me sad — an all out passive aggressive social media fight between bloggers. People I know. People I respect. People who are both excellent horseman in their own right.

Monday morning after the tornado, people headed to the barn in droves. Some took off work. Some called in their significant others, others brought their husbands. Some promised help when they could get off of work later, and stayed tuned for updates as carefully as someone would wait for test results from a hospital.

At the barn, there wasn’t a sense of panic or hopelessness or even loss. It was very much a regimented, “What is next to fix?” We walked through mud and puddles until our feet sloshed around in our boots. We stacked broken boards, pulled metal sheets into piles and heaved together to pick logs off of fence lines. We turned out horses, cleaned stalls and swept the barn aisle so even if the entire property was a mess we could at least call something clean and finished.

All of this work happened with a wide variety of folks. Republicans and democrats, jumpers and hunters (which let’s be honest — can be almost as divided as our political system). People in their twenties and people in their sixties helped. I helped tie off a section of rubble to horses owned by some people who good lawdy sure did cause some drama with a trainer I consider a friend. I stripped stripped the stall of a horse who’s owner I drink with often just as I dumped loads of shavings into the stall of an owner who likes to talk down my beloved nerd horse. Plus let’s be honest – I’m sure I’ve annoyed half the people working out there Monday morning or unintentionally insulted their horse or somehow put my foot in my mouth because lord knows I’m not god’s gift to the equestrian world in any way.

There is no right or wrong in a crisis, just action.

I have so many faults. I’ll raise my hand and be the first to tell you that I’ve written more than one post here in the past where I was trying to prove a point to someone else, but there’s no righteousness in that kind of behavior. Horse people are not always going to get along. There are plenty of times I don’t approve of how someone treats their horse, I don’t think their training choices will lead to good results or quite frankly I don’t like them as a person. That’s never going to change, but why do we feel the need to tear each other down? These days, I don’t understand that much.

We need to remember that those in our community are in that community because of heart. We all have a heart for these creatures and this sport. Instead of trying to be right all the time, I’ve found that it’s oftentimes a lot easier to be. I’m not convinced it’s easier to slam someone down than it is to boost them up. In fact, it’s a lot easier to say, “I hope that works for you” or even simply, “I hear what you’re saying, but I don’t agree.”

This is a hard lifestyle, and it’s full of heart break. Sometimes that heartbreak is your star jumper stepping on a nail and facing maybe going from 1.20 meter horse to a pasture ornament. Sometimes it’s a bad horse show. Sometimes it’s a tornado.

Roll up your sleeves. Step in the mud. Support one another. We need our fellow horse people, both in our barn and across the country.

48 COMMENTS

  1. This morning at work when some of my coworkers asked about me weekend I told them about the barn and how that had changed my plans for my Monday off. They were like Oh you work out there too? They were blown away all of us took our day off just to help out. I guess it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t. And I don’t think it occurred to anyone else at the barn either. We are so lucky to have such a great barn family. I’m thankful for the people and the ponies…the rest is all just stuff…

    • It wouldn’t occur to me to do otherwise as well. That barn is my happy place, and the people in it have always been there for me. That’s the kind of relationship you take care of in every circumstance.

  2. Agree with the sentiments in the post and omg at the tornado damage. I’m sorry you guys got hit with that and am so happy to hear that no one was injured! All that metal makes me cringe, especially the shot of the stalled horses with metal draped in front of them. Scary stuff.

    • That gray horse with the metal all around her stall was EXHAUSTED when we were out there Monday. I felt so bad for her. She had just come back from the horse show, and then all that happened. What you can’t see in the picture are the big dents in the back of her stall of debris flying into it in the middle of the night. So scary.

  3. Holy cow! I’m so glad that nobody was seriously injured. You’re so right about the drama, but I do notice that when it comes down to it, in times of crisis, many people are able to temporarily put down their pitch forks to join forces to do what needs to be done.

  4. So glad everyone is okay! I wish I could come help clean up. And fantastic thoughts on the bigger picture and our community. I am always so impressed with the insight of your writing. Big hugs!

  5. I’m so glad everyone is safe. When I was 14 the barn where I boarded burned to the ground. I totally know what you’re going through. And it’s amazing to see people pitching in and helping out. When we had our fire, horse trailers lined the streets “just in case” we needed to move horses off the property. Horse people from all around just showed up! With trailers! Just in case. People brought food for horses and people alike. In the weeks and months that followed, some even loaned school horses to my trainer as ours all were lost in the fire. Horse people, though opinionated and often times awful… Are also pretty amazing when it really counts.
    I hope you’re able to get everything cleaned up and put back together quickly. If I can send anything or help from afar, please don’t hesitate to let me know!

  6. So glad everyone is okay!!! We had a “micro-burst” (they wouldn’t categorize it as a tornado) at St Andrews College in NC at one of the off-site boarding barns. One horse was unlucky that the sheet metal ripped his entire stomach open, rather deeply. He finally recovered but I think it took over a year of intensive wound care and re-habbing. It happened the year after I graduated, so must have been 2009-2010 year.

  7. I am so glad none of the horses, other animals, and people at your barn were not harmed and all are safe. I think a lot of us in the area dodged a bullet. That must have been a terrifying scene at first before knowing your guys were okay.

  8. what a terrifying situation, and such a relief that the important things in life are able to shine through despite the disaster and otherwise petty day to day distractions.

  9. Very well said. Hard to imagine how we have forgotten the things we were taught in elementary school. I am so glad that everyone is ok. Y’all are lucky to have such a barn family what shows up in the face of such devastation and tragedy to work together to make everything right again. It truly is a miracle that none were hurt. When my mare was younger, before I got her, a tornado came through and did similar damage. She was hit by the roof of a run in shed and got ripped up. Has some pretty gnarly scars as a reminder.
    On a more positive note, glad the show went well! I look forward to reading about it and seeing the pics.

  10. We had some damage too. Much less than what your barn incurred, but I was having similar thoughts yesterday. I only have six at home right now. We were beyond lucky. The house and cars and trailers and animals were all basically ignored while several barns weren’t as lucky, these are things that will be repaired with a little money and some hard work.

    I got some wonderful offers of unsolicited assistance including two trainers who offered my horses to come right on over and take up residence in their barns while we worked to clean up. I remembered distinctly a conversation that I had at the horse show this weekend about how crazy horse people can be, but these crazy people rally around just like any family when someone needs help and that made me smile a lot while I was hanging off the top of the 16′ ladder yesterday. Hope everyone patches up quickly and we don’t see that weather again for a very long time.

  11. how scary! I’m so glad all the horses came through mostly unscathed, but that is some serious damage! I’m glad everyone came together to help out, that is what our barn does too. This weekend in our torrential rain different people at different times dug ditches, checked on horses, etc. It’s a community. I hope your barn can rebuild soon.

  12. “There is no right or wrong in a crisis, just action.” Ain’t that the truth. Seeing insane natural disaster damage in person, I can attest to that above all other things. I’m really relieved to hear all were relatively unscathed following this event.

  13. So glad to hear that everyone is okay! An F1 hit a barn near here last year, and they’re still recovering. It’s very cool to see how people came together at your barn and helped out despite their differences.

  14. The lack of any news about the horses really had me a little terrified too. I was so glad for all of your updates yesterday, since I was trapped at work, so thanks for those! I was amazed at how much y’all got done when I finally made my way out there.

  15. Well said, Lauren. Having been through more than one tornado, one of which triggered the state/county disaster team to come out, I well know how heart-stopping it can be when it is passing through the pastures/barns, yard, and house, and again when you see the damage. I’m so glad none of the people, horses, cats, etc were harmed. What a relief!

  16. Amazing no horses or people were hurt with all that metal and wood flying around. I’m sorry that happened to you and your barn. I always have a horror of a tornado hitting our property.

    take care,

  17. I’m very glad to hear that everyone is okay. The amount of damage is honestly shocking. Here’s to you all for stepping in, and I hope the rest of cleanup goes smoothly.

  18. I’m late to this party, but Lauren your post is excellent and thank you for putting your thoughts out there. This is a great reminder that owning horses is a luxury. Having the time to snark about others’ choices in horses, training, chosen sport, etc. is a luxury. I am glad that in a time of crisis, the people at your barn shut the hell up for a day and just did what needed to be done. What sucks is that too often it takes a damn crisis before we humans find it within ourselves to pull together. Natural disasters, war, disease and famine are all incredibly effective at getting us to put aside our differences in order to fight a “common enemy”…the rest of the time we busy ourselves with creating reasons to make each other the enemy.

  19. I’m glad everyone is okay. Some of those pictures- Holy Cow!

    I think it all comes down to the horses. People may not like each other, support the same disciplines or training theories, may not even appreciate thIngs about each other, but we all hope that “If it were MY horse, I hope Someone would do the same for US, me and MY horse.”

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