Horse Health

Video Report: Equine Family and Livelihood Lost in Oklahoma Tornado


“I just wailed and wailed over them. They were like my kids…”

BARTOW COUNTY, GA (CBS ATLANTA) -Things just aren’t right at Jon Ellis’ stables.

“Now there is no one in here to take care of,” Ellis said.

Ellis and his wife Jennifer Short raised and trained eight race horses at their Bartow County horse farm. But seven of them were with Ellis in Oklahoma last month when a tornado ripped through the area.

“I was just praying as I ran, praying that it would miss our barn and it just went right down the middle of our barn,” Ellis said.

Ellis was on his way back to the barn when the tornado hit. He said he’ll never forget what he saw when he got back.

“Just dead horses laying everywhere. The most awful deaths you can imagine, I mean it wasn’t like walking in a pasture and finding one died of old age, they died horrific deaths,” said Ellis.

More than 100 horses died that day. Ellis and Short said it was like losing a family member.

“I just wailed and wailed over them. They were like my kids, and one was a 2-year-old baby, and I had bottle fed her from birth every two hours. And I never missed a beat for three months, every two hours,” Ellis said.

Ellis said insurance will cover the lost trailers, saddles and other gear, but with no insurance on the horses, the couple faces the daunting task of starting over just weeks before their first child is born.

“It’s a tough time especially with the baby coming, so we are very hopeful somehow it all comes together,” said Short.

Ellis and Short said they draw strength from Derbydaydelight. She is the one horse that didn’t make the trip to Oklahoma.

Click (HERE) to Comment at Atlanta CBS

Categories: Horse Health, Horse News

Tagged as: , , , ,

13 replies »

  1. This is truly “Heart Breaking”….My Heart goes out to you both “Ellis” and “Jennifer”.

    Horses are like family….Thank God for “Derbydaydelight” she is the inspiration to keep you going.

    Wishing the Best in your healing and rebuilding.


  2. So sorry for the loss of this equine family and is truly a sad heart wrenching story.

    This story also illustrates how horses are not raised to end up in the slaughter pipeline with an equally horrific death. Unlike a tornado that is a natural disaster, slaughter is a man made disaster of epic and sinister proportions. If it was in any of the owners power to stop the tornado that day in OK, make other decisions, they would have done. Horses don’t have to suffer horrific deaths like these tornado victims. Horses deserve responsible stewardship and decisions to avoid a slaughter disaster..

    This man made tornado called horse slaughter must be stopped before it sweeps through and destroys everything in it’s path.


  3. Yes, this story is very heart wrenching, I honestly can’t imagine the pain, but thank goodness you have one baby left she will comfort you and help I am sure, I am so sorry this had to happen, may god bless you and you will heal in time…………


  4. You can just see how the love for horses is strong. Pro-slaughter people call us “emotional” and irrational. Well, I don’t think there is anything more rational than having the love and respect for horses and all animals and for those of us who have been blessed by having shared our lives with them, there is nothing greater and more rewarding than that. Do I get emotional when I think about that, I sure do!


  5. I’d like to see a few breeders step up and send these folks some ready to race horses. I wonder if any have thought of that. They wouldn’t replace those who’ve been lost, but it would be a start.


  6. He said the yearling was calling for her family … and anyone who has witnessed a wild horse and burro capture (or video) has heard that mournful sound. Heart-wrenching. ALL horses and burros are special and I am saddened to hear this story.


    • Yes Grandmagregg, i have witnessed the gut wrenching cries when horses call out to each other when they are separated, it tears my heart to pieces, I cannot bear those cries , the are so pitiful……… when they have a made a bond, they must never be separated………..My heart goes out to these people ….May\ Derbydaylight bring them through these tragedy………….


  7. Yes, maybe TB breeders will help and those rescuing quality race horses from slaughter, pregnant mares etc, might drop them a line to let them know what u have available. I know they are looking for specific racing pedigree, but they are found in the kill pens every single day. Awful to lose your horse family!


  8. This is so sad! I feel for them. Yes horses or any animal you have become part of your family and you feel their loss as if they were your kids. That is so sad that the horses had to die in a tornado..These poor animals. At least now they are at peace over the rainbow bridge


  9. Very sorry for the loss of both horses & people in the terrible OK & other states tornados recently-so far Nebraska hasn’t been hit & pray won’t happen here this year! Joe Mette.



  10. Ellis and Jennifer: I cry with you. I, just had to put down a beautiful Arabian I had saved from the humane society only to discover she had laminitis. We tried everything, and she was so sweet, but we couldn’t save her and had to make the terrible decision to stop her pain, even though my pain is tremendous. I know how you feel. The horrible part for you was seeing your four legged family in such a condition knowing how horrible their death was. May your remaining four legged family member be of comfort to you now while you grieve and help you in the future. I feel for you. I know my remaining four horses give me more than I could ever give them. May help come to you and that the breeders that end up sending their horses to auction knowing they could end up in the slaughter line give them to you to start anew. God Bless You and it is so nice to know that I have company in considering my four legged animals as family members. I cry for each of them when I lose them. I sometimes get comments of why I am crying but I loved them so much — they were truly my family and they will never be forgotten.


Care to make a comment?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.