In the wake of the deadly May 20 tornado that ripped through the Moore, Okla., several horse farms were leveled, killing numerous horses and injuring many more.
Shelters were swamped with misplaced animals and medical supplies were quickly spent.
Social media became the voice of many of these animals, shelters and affected barns, and their stories did not go unheard.
As images of the damage began to circulate, people across the nation started sending donations and volunteering time to help those affected by this tragedy, including the families of the 24 killed and 377 injured, among others.
With most of the aid helping the affected urban communities, a group of Nebraskans banded together to aid in the relief fund for horses and their owners.
As word spread of the equine fatalities and horse farm destruction due to the tornado, the equine network around Lancaster County, Neb., began buzzing with ways to help Oklahoma horse owners get back on their feet.
A local barrel race held at the Capital City Horse and Pony Club grounds north of Lincoln became the drop-off destination for donation items.
“We asked for items that would help the people and the animals displaced or injured by the tornado,” said Lauren Willis, manager of the CCHPC barrel series. “Barrel racers donated food, clothes, horse tack and other necessities. It was a nice activity to add to our regular barrel race.”
A volunteer took donated items from the Capital City Horse and Pony Club grounds to load a semi truck that was part of “Destination: MOORE OK” — a convoy of semis lined up by local Nebraska trucking companies to help transport items to Oklahoma.
The Facebook page for the group stated that Oklahoma officials said the delivery from Nebraska was the largest to be received. Lincoln radio station Froggy 98 was on site at the load station to help promote the effort.
Other monetary gifts and donations were sent using guidance from former Nebraska resident Christina Brezack, who now resides in Oklahoma City after taking a position with the National Reining Horse Association.
Brezack witnessed much of the devastation as it occurred.
“At work we watched the news reports and saw the tornado forming on live TV,” she said. “Shortly after, reports of the devastation started coming in, ranging from horses being killed at local barns to children not making it out of their destroyed schools.”
As the devastation became reality, the NRHA sprang into action, partnering with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, as well as the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association and the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma to organize a relief effort.
The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture set up a hotline for horse owners to contact shelters to locate their animals while both racing associations began accepting monetary donations and dispersing the funds to families in need.
“I couldn’t believe the help that was immediately offered from family, friends and complete strangers,” Brezack said. “We wouldn’t be able to make it through this catastrophic event without the generously and kindness of others,”
She also noted the NRHA is focused and committed on assisting the families affected by the tornado for an extended amount of time after this immediate phase of disaster relief. ❖