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Even in Chaos, Horses Help Ground Us

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.

horses in muddy paddock

The two geldings, Yukon, left, and Freddie, stay close together as they navigate a muddy paddock. | Photos by Amy Herdy

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.


Luna the filly pauses while eating her supplements to show off her still-white face.


Quill the colt has been lying in the mud, and it shows.

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.


Categories: Horse Care.

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7 Responses

  1. I’m so glad you and the horses are ok, Amy. When I heard about all of the flooding, my first thoughts were about Luna and Quill since they are so young. It’s great to see pictures of how they’ve grown. Quill is going to be huge, and Luna is so cute! Thanks for letting us know everyone is fine!

  2. Amy, my horses have been my sanity check during all of this as well; we are stranded in an “island” above the Buckhorn road NW of Masonville — we are all safe and dry just get get out once we get to the main road because it’s washed out in numerous places. My horses are my comfort in all this craziness!
    Deb Cheuvront

  3. Amy, I’m sooo glad you and all the horses are okay. It’s so sad what has happened to everyone in your state. I’m sure at first the rain was welcomed in a generally dry state, but this is too much. May everyone, human and four legged, be found okay, and the rebuilding goes quickly. Now we must all strive to be in the moment and recognize that it is a good moment, even if not the best. The past and future will be as they are without us worrying and stressing about it, as that changes nothing.
    Stay safe and give Quill a special kiss from his Auntie Laura.

    Laura Pajot, OregonSeptember 19, 2013 @ 12:25 pm
  4. Prayers and thoughts are with you and all !

  5. Deb, I know exactly what you mean. I’m sending dry thoughts your way!

    And thank you to all who have checked in here, you are so thoughtful.

    Let’s all hug our horses and count our blessings.


  6. My heart goes out to everyone who has been touched by the floods in Colorado.
    I wonder how many horses and other 4 legged creatures have been lost or injured during this time? I hope that those persons who are unaccounted for are safe some where, and just unable to make contact with others. I would normally be in Colorado at this time with my horse, but circumstances have kept me in Florida.
    Another situation that I would like to bring attention to is the plight of our Heritage horses in the west that are being inhumanely removed from the BLM lands and sold to slaughter buyers. Please become proactive in protesting the inhumane treatment of these majestic animals. Please see The Cloud foundation, The American Federation to Preserve Wild Horses. Lets come together to prevent the total removal of wild horses from western lands.

  7. We were in the middle of the flood. A “creek” was diverted due to a debris blockage at a bridge so all of the water from Left Hand Canyon went through my house. Thankfully we got the animals to high ground and then were safely evacuated.

    I tell you this not for a pity party but to establish my credibility as a flood victim. From my perspective you should not feel guilty because your lives were only disrupted a minor amount. I would never wish what has happened to us on even my worst enemy and 3 houses ruined is better than 4 houses ruined which is better than 5 houses ruined!

    Instead, I ask you to channel that energy into helping someone in need – flood victim or other- It has been the help, love and support of so many amazing people (friends and strangers) that has carried us through this calamity and restored my faith in humanity (I’m one of those “rather be with my horse than with a human” types…). Let us all continue to pay it forward… Thanks.

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