Fall President’s Message
We really hope that none of our members were permanently displaced by Harvey. We have heard from many members who were adversely affected and are struck by how strong and resilient they are in the face of adversity. We hope that there will be a speedy recovery for all.
Harvey presented HDS with quite a challenge and I am very proud of how the members rose to the occasion to help one another. Thank you to every member who helped other HDS members, their community and the equines who were evacuated, caught in high water and otherwise affected during and after the storm. Thank you, also, to those who are still helping others with their homes and barns trying to get back to normal or to their new normal.
It was an agonizing decision to cancel the Laborious I&II shows since so many times the weather predictions for hurricanes turn into just a small rain event. In hindsight it was clearly the right decision. Even if our riders, horses and volunteers could have made it to the Great Southwest Equestrian Center, they would not have been able to leave for a week or more depending on where they live. The other obvious result of being sequestered at GSWEC was that it would have meant that the riders, volunteers and show staff would not have been able to reach their homes, leaving their families and other pets to face the storm alone.
I know that there are hundreds of stories about the heroic efforts some of our members undertook to help others and we hope that you all will share them. I don’t have the space to list those that I know were instrumental in the relief efforts even during the storm and certainly after. HDS members from Dallas (Nanni Baker and Kristin Cordiak) and Houston brought hay and immediate triage supplies to locations they could reach during the storm. Immediately the HDS grass roots relief efforts took hold. It quickly became apparent that the amount of damage and the scope of relief efforts would be overwhelming for a few individual members so a broader base relief effort was needed. The GSWEC quickly became a safe haven for evacuated horses and then a central hub for relief supplies that then could be distributed to the community. Equine Express was instrumental in compiling donations and supplies that they delivered in the days after the storm. After the rains subsided (but still with floodwaters high) HDS members then received an urgent plea from Beaumont who suffered extensive flooding, as well. HDS members (Sammi Jo Stohler, Vincent Flores and John Mason) sprung into action and took a caravan of horse trailers and an Equine Express truck of hay and triage supplies to Beaumont where the Ford Center literally had nothing for the stranded horses. Amy Uniss from the GSWEC followed shortly thereafter with a load of supplies, bringing relief to many horses that were separated from owners. Because of high waters it took the first group six hours to get home as only trucks were being allowed through the water and the roads were littered with cars of people who did not heed the warning that cars could not pass.
During the storm, HDS board members started getting calls for people outside the area who wanted to help. Vincent Flores was instrumental in compiling a list of those that were offering evacuation stalls. As the calls continued he created a google document since keeping up the updates was taking away from valuable time of getting relief supplies delivered. This google document was well received and posted by the USDF, as well as HDS. It had over 26,000 hits. Some Florida GMO’s used this concept during Hurricane Irma which struck a few weeks later. As we reflect on what worked and what didn’t in terms of relief efforts, it seems that this type of information would be really useful in advance of a storm so that those that want to evacuate prior have some options available. Another list that was compiled was a list of HDS members who have trucks and trailers and could assist in returning evacuated member horses back to their barn. I have been told that this was a great relief to many whose horses were evacuated by county vehicles leaving their horses with no way to get home or a prolonged stay at an evacuation center due to the lack of a vehicle. Using social media was an effective means of disseminating this information and so kudos to the “younger” board members who set up our social media network earlier this year!
Time to now focus on our future along with continuing clean up. The USDF Region 9 and SWDC Championships are right around the corner. We will think about and miss those that had to forego Championships because of the storm’s lasting effects and really look forward to seeing you very soon. For those that are able to attend we have our planning well underway despite Harvey. We are still in need of volunteers and remind all that the four hour volunteer requirement for recognized show riders will be strictly enforced. We have a fun four days planned and encourage everyone to come by and celebrate Championships.
There are a couple of other fun non show events that are taking place in the area in the next few months. SIRE is hosting a charity trail ride (monitored low key) with a fun twist for those who don’t have a horse – a virtual trail ride. Barns can put together a virtual team to compete against other virtual riders. If you have a horse that enjoys outings you can register to join in for the ride, music and BBQ. For information you can visit their website. We are also planning some education events which got a bit derailed by Harvey. We will keep you posted as we try and reschedule some of these events.
Again, a huge thank you to everyone that helped and was supportive of HDS through Harvey and after. Your efforts are greatly appreciated. We hope to see you at Championships!
All the best,
Chris Renne – HDS President