The Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce touts the state as the "horse show capital of the world" and "the venue of choice for more than a dozen top national and world championship horse shows, attracting riders from across the nation - and world - each year."
The horse community was hit particularly hard on Wednesday when the devastating level 5 tornado tore through Oklahoma City and its suburb, Moore. More than 150 horses have died as a result of the violent storm that swept through the area.
The number represents the entire community of farms that sit on the southern border of Oklahoma City, including Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses who were based at Celestial Acres Training Center.
Several organizations coordinating horse-rescue efforts, as well as local veterinarians and horse owners themselves, determined the number, said Joe Lucas, executive vice president of the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma.
“We’ve counted, unfortunately, 150 head or more that have been found [dead], were killed, or had to be put down,” Lucas said. “And that’s not just Celestial Acres. That’s the Moore area. That’s what we’ve gotten up to.”
Lucas said a hotline is being set up through the state Department of Agriculture for owners to inquire about lost horses. In addition, there are plans to post photos taken of both surviving and deceased horses for the purpose of identification. The Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association are helping with the process, Lucas said.