Over 100 feared horses dead in OK
By Esther Marr | Bloodhorse
Dr. Glenn Orr and Tom Orr’s Orr Family Farm near Moore, Okla., which sits on the 106-acre Celestial Acres Thoroughbred training center, sustained significant damage from the hit.
“Right now we still don’t have any specific numbers [on how many horses have died],” said Tony Vann, president of Vann & Associates, the public relations firm that represents the Oklahoma City area farm.
Vann said it was difficult to determine the number of animals lost since Orr rents stalls out to multiple trainers and it was unclear exactly how many were stabled at the farm at the time of the tornado.
“It’s like a war zone here — [the horses] are just gone,” said Vann. “It’s just scorched earth — like a bomb went off.”
The farm’s stalls and barns took a direct hit from the tornado, which was estimated to be on the ground for 40 minutes as it demolished everything in its path. It was estimated to be 3.2 kilometres wide. Three and a half of the facility’s five barns were reported to be swept away.
Vann said debris had been found on the Orr property from the city of Moore all the way to Tulsa, Okla., which is approximately 90 miles from the farm. “Right now they are going through and looking at just what they lost,” he said.
On its Facebook page, the farm noted that while it sustained an “extreme amount” of damage to its property and adjoining facility, its staff is unharmed from the tornado.
Vann said there were five staff in the farm’s administration office, plus several seasonal workers on site when the tornado approached. All were able to reach safety before it struck.
An exercise rider named Lando Hite who survived the tornado by huddling in a Celestial Acres horse stall was interviewed on CNN May 20. He predicted only one horse out of 80 that resided on the property had survived the disaster.
“I tried to let some of the horses get loose and free out of their stalls so they’d have a chance,” said Hite, who suspected the tornado was on its way moments just before it touched down.
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