The Aftermath: How to Help Horsemen After Hurricane Michael
At many farms across the Panhandle, little viable stabling remains following Hurricane Michael. Photo courtesy of Jodie Kelly
Hurricane Michael, the worst storm on record to hit the Florida Panhandle, has left residents from Florida to the Carolinas reeling--including many members of our equestrian community.
On the outskirts of Panama City, Joe Pimentel, respected breeder and president of the Trakehner Association of North America, is sifting through the wreckage of his Aqua Farms Sport Horses operation. He lost several horses in the storm, along with the majority of his farm's infrastructure, including his own home.
This steel barn, home to some of Joe Pimentel's 75 horses, was blown completely off its foundation by Hurricane Michael's winds. Photo courtesy of Jodie Kelly
Joe's dire needs are temporary stabling for his horses, including his breeding stallions, and a temporary living situation on the farm for himself, said his friend and professional dressage rider Jodie Kelly. She implored any horsemen with resources to offer help. Those who can assist financially are encouraged to visit the Go Fund Me account created to help Joe as he sorts through the wreckage, tends to his horses' immediate needs and figures out the best way to move forward.
Sadly, Joe's story will be one of many told by horse owners who experienced Hurricane Michael. But true to the character of the equestrian community, there are others who are ready to help.
- Kelly reports that Alaqua Animal Refuge in Freeport, FL, is actively helping a vast group of animal owners. She verifies that 100 percent of donated funds are used to meet animals' needs. Donations made to the AAR Hurricane Fund can be for general animal welfare or earmarked for equine relief.
- ASPCA Equine Welfare Award winner Fleet of Angels is at the forefront of coordinating relief efforts for horse owners in the hard-hit areas. Their National Equine Evacuation Directory helps to connect horsemen in need to supplies and services. Horsemen with the resources to help can make monetary donations or coordinate donations of hay, feed and supplies using their online donation form.
- Dr. Bess Darrow is an Ocala-based veterinarian with clientele throughout the Panhandle. She is also coordinating relief efforts, from veterinary care and physical farm labor to transport of animals and delivery of supplies. Support her efforts here.
- The Equestrian Aid Foundation is here for horsemen who have been critically injured in the storm, or whose medical conditions have become unmanageable as a result of the devastation. Connect with us to learn more.
Thank you to Horse Nation for their earlier reporting on resources for our community members in need, and to Jodie Kelly for her firsthand accounts from the Panhandle. Please stay connected and share the knowledge!