By Rebecca Agocs

The residents of Louisiana are once again stricken with the aftermath and disruption natural disaster brings. Declared the worst natural disaster in the United States since Hurricane Sandy, the flood waters in Louisiana have damaged more than homes, work buildings, and schools. Farms, equine facilities, and animals have been horrifically disrupted, ruined, and injured. Hay fields have been destroyed, grain has been ruined, and horses’ health is subjective to their specific area. Some horses have caught laminitis due to standing in the flood waters. Some have come down with pneumonia from the water. There are a variety of emergencies rising to the surface in the wake of these disastrous floods.

Doesn’t this sound like the prime time for more hardship? Where’s the rest of the community?

Hagyard Equine Medical Institute of Lexington, Kentucky which is connected with the American Association of Equine Practitioners and Louisiana State University has partnered with Brook Ledge Horse Transportation to hurry along essential items that the residents of flood-stricken Louisiana can utilize to better their situation. I spoke with Allison Rodgers of Hagyard Equine Medical Institute to try to get a better idea of what the relief effort looks like from the inside.

According to Allison, there’s been roughly somewhere between $8,000 and $10,000 raised from Hagyard’s efforts, alone! With approximately 50 doctors on staff, Hagyard Equine Medical Institute pooled its resources to reach out to the community to request specialized items to help the relief effort in Louisiana.

Located within the heart of horse country in the United States, Hagyard exists in an ideal location to pique the interest of other influential equestrians in the area. Allison mentioned that the equine community in the area donated quickly, showing just how sincere the horse community is. In fact, there have been people reaching out from all over the country offering their two-horse trailers to fill with donations to drive to afflicted areas in Louisiana. What struck me as devastating as the pictures was the fact that some people there feel like the media has overlooked them. Everyone knows that this situation exists. The way the horse community is rising up is the stuff that warms your heart and reminds you that the equestrian community is tight-knit and generous.

Allison recalls recognizing how dire the situation was from the photographs that came her way. During our conversation, it dawned on me quickly how harsh the conditions were, especially when she mentioned that you could see where the horses had been standing in the water based on the lack of hair on their legs and how inflamed they were. “It’s just devastating,” says Allison. Taken by surprise by the storm, people simply didn’t have enough time or foresight to prepare for the floods. Fortunately, Hagyard was able to amass donations in such a timely manner that they will be of great use to the equine community in Louisiana.

In order to prevent the flow of donations from stopping before they’re due, Allison mentioned that the American Association of Equine Practitioners has kept a list of items that they could use in the affected community.  It was then that I was reminded that there will be on-going needs long after the immediate donations stop because of the lack of hay. Many hay fields as well as stores were destroyed; hay will be needed up to a year from the disaster.

Though the experience has surely been traumatic for Louisiana, I was relieved to know that groups do exist to perform crisis training. Training that might be beneficial to provide in areas where certain natural disasters are prevalent; this could save lives. Allison alerted me to organizations which provide training for large animal rescues. Even the USEF has a disaster relief effort! Talk about a life saver.

Allison and I finished our conversation on the note that it would be wonderful if there was an effort to help provide specialized disaster relief efforts in areas of our country prone to natural disasters like flooding, tornados, and similar geographic issues. The Brooke Ledge Horse Transportation leaves Monday, August 30th to trek to Louisiana and provide much needed relief. As for Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, they have distinguished themselves as a gracious and giving group who will surely be remembered by the horse community.

More info: Horses Impacted by Floods in Louisiana in Need

Hagyard’s Facebook page: HagyardEquineMedical/