Two weeks after Hurricane Harvey swept through the Texas coastline, the NIGHTWATCH® team set out to lend a hand to our neighbors in Houston. The Sam Houston Race Park has become a refugee center for horses who have been displaced since the storm. Texas Equine Assistance (TEA) has gathered supplies like brushes, buckets, hay, shavings, feed, and more, then has a rotating group of volunteers who feed, clean, and walk the horses.
Upon arriving to the park on Saturday morning, we were put right to work due to the long to-do list to care for nearly 60 horses. We split into small groups who brought grain to different rows of stalls and cleaned then re-filled water buckets. Due to the rotating list of volunteers, TEA has created a great system for keeping up with feeding, bathing, and hand-walking horses to ensure none of them get skipped. After completing each task, we checked it off on a dry erase board affixed to each stall. Once each horse finished their grain, we paired up with a buddy and hand-walked the horses for 15 minutes, gave them a quick bath to show some much needed TLC, then let them dry out while hand-grazing and giving them some more love. Upon returning to their stall, they were each met with fresh shavings and some hay to munch on.
As the team reflects on our time with TEA, we are inspired by the fellow equestrians who have come together in the recovery efforts. It didn't matter what our horse experience was or what type of riding we partake in, we came together as a team to serve these horses and their owners. When entering a stall to feed a horse, not once did we think "I wonder how many blue ribbons this horse has won," or "Well, he's a reining gelding and I only ride jumpers." It did not matter if it was an Andalusian or a Quarter Horse, a mare or a gelding, an English or a Western horse that we were helping. It mattered that it was a horse who needed help, help that we could offer. We are humbled by the impactful efforts TEA and other organizations are making with the assistance of selfless volunteers.
If you would like to get involved in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, the following organizations are currently receiving monetary or supply donations.
- Texas Equine Veterinary Association
- USEF Equine Disaster Relief Fund
- The Humane Society of the United States Disaster Relief Fund
If you would like to donate your time and equine skillset, the following organizations are looking for volunteers in varying capacities.
Our thoughts are with the Floridians and Georgians who are now being impacted by Hurricane Irma. We are comforted by the cohesion of the horse industry. When faced with adversity, we are a strong community who comes together in spite of our differences.