One Colorado horse owners reflects on the crisis of the floods in her state.
At first the rain was just annoying, because it made it impossible to ride.
Then the hours turned into days, the rain became a downpour, rivers and creeks overflowed, dams broke and suddenly everywhere around us in Colorado was a flood zone.
We are fine, and our horses are fine, and I feel dual emotions of gratitude and almost guilt for that. As I write this, the last death toll is up to seven, with hundreds still unnacounted for, and that number changes daily. Thousands have been evacuated.
Our sons knew one of the young men who died after being swept away. We have friends who have been without power or water for days.
And yet, in all this horrific sadness, uplifting stories of people helping each other are trickling in, including those from the horse community.
I’ve heard tales of folks using jet skis and boats to reach stranded horses and cattle, and of others who have gone barn to barn, rescuing someone else’s horses, cows, llamas or goats.
Word has buzzed from one horse owner to another of pending water shutoffs and where to find water tanks so that herds don’t go without.
We were lucky—our horses are boarded at a farm that’s on high ground, even if it is in Longmont, one of the cities that became a flood zone. We weren’t able to get to them all week–the streets were washed out–but the woman who owns the barn didn’t mind taking care of the mares and foals for us until we could make it there.
The colt and the filly both look like mud babies. Our geldings stood together at the gate and stared at me in a way that I can only describe as bewildered.
Yet it stopped raining today, so I turned the mares and foals out onto their pasture, which has patches of mud but for the most part started drying up pretty quick. The colt bucked and snorted and farted and dashed around in a frenzy, while the filly carefully picked her way out of the muddy paddock and only broke into a deliberate canter once she was on firm ground. The mares ignored their antics and strolled out leisurely.
Then the sun broke out from behind a cloud, and soon, mares and foals alike put their heads down and began to graze. And just like that, I was reminded of one of the biggest lessons horses continue to teach us: To live in the present moment.