Support pours in for Pulaski ranch owners
PULASKI — Though there have been no official deaths reported in the area as a result of this week’s storms, Shadow Ranch is mourning the loss of a family member.
The Pulaski-based venue’s 10-year-old horse Spring died during what ranch owners Erik and Kim Reid said was the worst storm they’d seen in the 20 years they’ve owned the property.
“Everything was damaged,” Erik Reid said. “The roof was off the old barn, water was pouring in on our hay — everything was everywhere.”
Although the damage was significant, with the help of local and national horsing communities, the ranch and its owners were well on their way to mending their facilities, as well as their broken hearts, less than 48 hours later.
Erik Reid said it was about 4 p.m. Wednesday when the storm began and he had traveled down his lengthy driveway to pick up some of the ranch’s students from the bus stop. The winds had just started to pick up when he received an alarming phone call.
“That’s when Kim called and said, ‘You need to come back immediately because Spring’s down and the roof fell on her,’ ” Erik Reid said.
Kim Reid, who was recovering from the flu, remained in the couple’s home to wait out the storm. She said a student who was already on site called her from his cellphone and described a situation that drew her to the window.
“I saw the shed roof ripped off on the horse. And she was trying to get up, and she couldn’t get up,” Kim Reid said.
After phoning her husband, Kim Reid braced the storm and headed out to see if she could help.
Seeing the condition of Spring, Kim Reid said they immediately called a nearby large-animal vet, but the weather conditions caused what was normally a five-minute drive to take 45 minutes. Once the vet arrived, Spring was already going into shock and the couple’s worst fears were confirmed.
Spring’s back was broken by the impact of the roof and would need to be put down. She was buried Thursday.
Though they’d had horses die in their time as ranch owners, Kim Reid said this death was particularly hard.
“We were here when she was born. We raised her. … One of the [female students] here did all her training on her, showed her at her first show, and she was family,” she said.
While Spring’s death was likely the hardest to bear, it was just one of a multitude of problems the storm caused on the ranch.
Erik Reid said that not only was there massive damage to the multiple buildings, gates and their own home, but the 60 square bails of hay needed to feed their 47 horses for the week had also been soaked.
Because many of the horses are boarded, shortly after the storm’s surge passed, Kim Reid began calling and contacting owners via Facebook to inform them that all of the other horses were fine. That’s how Becky Jarnoski said she first learned of the tragedy.
Jarnoski said that despite Reid’s having lost one of her own horses, she called to inform her that Jarnoski’s five horses were safe and sound shortly after the storm had passed.
The 27-year-old said she’d been working with the Reids since elementary school and wanted to find a way to help. She offered to leave her Blacksburg job and come help clean up, but Kim Reid persuaded her not to, saying it was too dark and cold.
Instead, Jarnoski found another way to help Shadow Ranch. Using Facebook and email, she began reaching out to fellow horse enthusiasts in a fundraising effort. She also reached out to Mary Trowbridge of the Arabian Horsemens Distress Fund.
Jarnoski said she was shocked when Trowbridge, who was traveling in Texas at the time, immediately got in touch with her and offered to help with whatever was needed. As a result, Jarnoski said Trowbridge financed several bags of horse feed, which the Reids were able to pick up at the Pulaski Tractor Supply, and also offered to help reimburse the Reids for their other repair costs.
Jarnoski admitted she hated making phone calls and networking in such ways, but said she had good reason to step out of her comfort zone that day.
“[Kim’s] so awesome and because I love her and because I’ve been there since I was a little kid. I would do anything I could do to help her,” Jarnoski said.
Likewise, Erin McCormick, who hasn’t been involved at the ranch since 2008, said she couldn’t help but want to lend a hand when she heard of the ranch’s loss.
Friday morning, in bitterly cold weather, McCormick could be seen helping feed and toting wheelbarrows of hay around Shadow Ranch. The 29-year-old apologized when she had to leave to go to her job but made sure to put a freshly baked breakfast casserole in Kim Reid’s hands before leaving.
“They’re just good people, and they do so much for everybody else. I just felt like I should do what I could to help them,” McCormick said.
Similar outpourings have been a frequent sight over the past few days.
Phone calls, texts and Facebook messages filled with concern began pouring in just hours after the storm hit, Kim Reid said.
“I’m just overwhelmed when I talk about it. It just makes me want to cry because people I’ve never even met, people I haven’t spoken to in years — they were calling,” Kim Reid said.
While Reid admitted she had told many people it was too cold and wet to come out and help, McCormick said many of Shadow Ranch’s close to 30 students were planning to show up Saturday, welcome or not, to assist with the cleanup effort.
With that type of seemingly unstoppable assistance, it’s likely the healing from the storm’s havoc at Shadow Ranch will be happening sooner rather than later.
“I can’t even describe it. I just feel very, very blessed. I love my horse community,” Kim Reid said.