Eventing Nation: After fires, floods, Colorado awaits plague of locusts

Shara Rutberg reports on Colorado’s record flooding and how it’s affecting the horse community.

Top photo: Rowing across Sally Dalton’s cross country course

From Shara:

Colorado eventer Sally Dalton — and her horses — watched in horror as floodwaters tore through the cross country course she had completed just weeks earlier in Longmont, Colorado. Fortunately, her family and animals are safe. “Bye bye cross country course,” she said. “I looked out our window this morning and couldn’t believe when I went down to the field and saw a lake instead.” Left Hand Creek, usually lazy and slow, roared from 20 feet across to 500 feet wide and angry.

The flooding was dramatic and dramatically random. Farms and subdivisions along usually pokey creeks were far more likely to be washed out, though which direction waters rushed was unpredictable. Hardly a mile from Dalton’s course, the Rocky Mountain Horse Trials’ Silo Farms cross country course is merely soggy. “It didn’t even fill the water jumps all the way,” said Course Manager Gayle Udall. Yet another mile away, the footing and fencing at Green Tree Farm’s lower arena are miles downstream, along with eventer Kristie Hunziker’s set of jumps. Who knew you needed to put your name and phone number on your standards? All horses, dogs and chickens there are safe along with the people.

Green Tree outdoor arena “footing”

The rain pummeled Boulder County “in biblical proportions,” according to the National Weather Service. A biblical dose of fire (more “hellfire” then “burning bush”) singed us earlier this year. Why can’t we get biblical proportions of the funner Old Testament faves, like wine, rejoicing and “begetting?”

As we’ve seen across the country when the horse community faces mind boggling events (Super Storm Sandy, FEI rule changes), we rally and help one another. The same’s been true here in Colorado.

At X, Halt, Tread Water.

Area IX eventers are a rugged lot, what with the rocky mountain footing and a competition season that’s 10 minutes long. This year’s season opened with Abbe Ranch Horse Trial, where you could smell the smoke from the massive forest fires incinerating acres upon acres of nearby Black Forest horse country. It will close in a few weeks with championships at the Colorado Horse Park, where Education and Entertainment Director,Vivien Van Buren, said they “were very, very lucky, and hardly had any damage at all.”

The event will go on as scheduled. Between then and now, no doubt, riders will have much more practice riding through water.

Know a direct link to help Colorado’s horse community? Please send it and we’ll post it. In the meantime, ways you can give to HelpColoradoNow.org, a partnership between the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) and Colorado Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (COVOAD).



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