Horse Owners Assess Tornado Damage

by: Pat Raia of The Horse

The number of horses lost or injured as a result of the storms is still uncertain

All that remains of a barn ~ photo by Richard Gwin

Horse owners in Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee are assessing damage and calculating losses after a series of early spring tornadoes swept though several counties in those states last week.

According to the National Weather Service, 42 confirmed tornadoes tore through Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio on March 2. The storms packed winds as high as 180 mph, knocking out utilities and flattening homes and barns. All told, the confirmed human death toll reached 39, according to the agency. The number of horses lost or injured as a result of the storms is still uncertain.

“We know there are horses missing and roaming the area, but we just don’t know much else,” said Jim Noel, president of the Indiana Horse Council.

Kentucky was among the hardest hit by the twisters. Farm operators William and Rhonda McCardle lost 15 of the Quarter Horses residing in a barn on their Crittendon, Ky., property when the tornado struck, demolishing the structure. Two horses remain missing. Two surviving horses, a yearling and a 2-week-old foal, were later discovered alive in the barn rubble. Those animals were placed under care at a veterinary hospital in Lexington, Ky., said Sue Haynes, friend of the McCardle family. On March 5 the yearling died as a result of his injuries, Haynes said.

Meanwhile, Kelly Carr, owner of the Saddle Up Arena equine facility in Madison, Ind., said one member of her family lost three of five horses to the storm. Other animals were injured, she said.

“Some had large wounds from flying debris and cuts from hail,” she said. “We could see homes and barns just flattened.”

In Tennessee, a spokesman for the Jackson County Extension Service of the University of Tennessee, said that Extension Service Manager Cynthia Zeitz was still helping horse owners assess the post-storm damage to animals and other property.

Rebecca Gimenez, PhD, primary instructor and president of the Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue, said these early storms are a reminder that horses are particularly at risk for tornado-related injury and death when they are located in a barn when the heavy weather arrives.

“Unless your barn is built like Fort Knox and certified for a high wind event, horses should be in their pastures,” Gimenez said. “Horses may get nasty injuries, but they won’t be crushed in the barn.”

Gimenez also reminds owners to clear their property of any items that might become airborne before a storm strikes. Owners should, whenever possible, remove tree limbs that storm force winds could blow down and remove debris and other items from pastures and paddocks.

While the damage assessments continue, the Kentucky Horse Council is coordinating support for tornado-affected horse owners through the U.S. Equine Disaster Relief Fund. The Fund provides revenue to help horse owners purchase necessities such as feed and fencing in the aftermath of tornadoes and other devastating storms.

“We are also in touch with the Indiana Horse Council to determine the extent of the need there,” said Kentucky Horse Council President Anna Zinkhon.

Meanwhile, those wanting to donate to the U.S. Equine Disaster Relief Fund should visit for details. Anyone interested in helping the McCardle family rebuild should contact Haynes at

Kentucky Reports Many Horses Killed by March 2 Tornadoes

by of

Humans, Horses, Homes and Barns Laid to Waste by Storms

Deadly Twisters tore at America's Heartland ~ photo by Brook Bunch

More and more the sad news is coming in of horse owners who have lost all or almost all of their horses in the March 2, 2012 tornadoes, often along with their homes and barns. Many horses who were not already dead had to be euthanized due to severe injuries they had suffered. Injured horses, other pets, and livestock have been keeping veterinarians in the area very busy.

Rhonda and Bill McCardle, of Crittenden, Kentucky, have been running their McCardle’s Hidden Stables for 40 years, are one of those horse owners whose lives were devastated by the March 2 tornadoes. After the tornado hit their ranch two people who lived on their farm were killed, Donald and Linda Beemon, and their ranch laid in ruin with 15 of their horses dead, and the family dogs are unaccounted for.

Loose horses were roaming around in the area of Henryville and surrounding areas hit hard by tornadoes. Many of these horses were being rounded up and trailered to Saddle Up Arena, an equestrian show facility, in Madison, Indiana. There were mares with foals by their sides included in the group of about 40 horses that were taken to the facility. Each horse is being tagged with the identification of the area they were found in for owner reference. Due to the Clark State Forestry horse trails being located within the Henryville area there were many horse farms located in the areas that were hit hard by the tornadoes. It is hoped that these horses can be reunited with their owners.

Anyone missing horses from the Southern Indiana area hit by tornadoes can contact Kelly Carr of Saddle Up Arena at: 502-645-2304. Saddle Up Arena is located at 178 North Badger Road, Madison, IN.

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