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Horse accidents hit home at ASC

By Staff
Letter to the Editor
On Dec. 23, 2006, I was called to the scene of an accident to find my beloved friend and companion lying in the road after being struck by a vehicle.
My heart was tearing to pieces as I realized that he could not be saved, and I struggled to let him go as his life ended. He was a great gift to have in my life, as he was very rare and unique of his kind. He had a tremendous heart, a playful personality and enough ambition to take you anywhere you would want to go. He was an amazing teacher and a refreshing boost of confidence for even the most timid of riders. And even though there are some people who may not understand this being said about a horse, you would if you had ever met Cody. He will always be cherished and never forgotten.
This event has brought much scrutiny through the local papers and our communities over the last four weeks. I would like to clarify and provide additional information pertaining to these matters that will allow fellow citizens a better understanding for all parties that have been involved.
It should first and foremost be understood that I, nor any other respectable horse owner, ever wants to experience an incident such as this. We do not pour our heart, emotions, time and money into these animals and not care what happens to them. On the contrary, I care very deeply for all of my animals and their safety is my top priority. No matter how strong the fencing is and no matter how well the gates are locked, horses can get out.
The accident which occurred on Nov. 14, 2006 was a completely unrelated incident from the Atmore Saddle Club (ASC). This has been a very common misconception for any horse related issues that take place within the area of the ASC. We have received many calls concerning issues with horses that are not boarded at the facility.
Next, the ASC does not own the property of the Ray Lambert Arena; it is leased by the ASC. Through the last four years we have made many improvements to the property, which total well over $8,000 and barn repairs/improvements after Hurricane Ivan. Of course we would welcome having repairs made from Hurricane Katrina, however we do not have the funds or manpower available. Does this make the barn deplorable? I do not think so. It does however mean that it is over 100 years old and has weathered many storms.
We are a non-profit organization that raises money through sponsorships, horse shows, rodeos and barrel races to keep the club functioning. Our monthly horse shows and practice nights each week have encouraged many children's interest in riding. We are a family orientated group and provide a safe environment were children and adults can learn and grow in equine activities.
Finally, there is a security light on the south side of the barn at the main entrance that has existed for well over four years and there are two security lights placed at each end of the arena, all of which are lit from dusk until dawn. The security light at the main entrance can be seen from the road way. In addition, we have also placed panel gates crossing the dirt road which leads to the pastures located on the south end of the property for added security.
Since the incident at the ASC on Dec. 23, there are four other occurrences that I am personally aware of in which horses have gotten out of their respectful pastures. None of these four incidents were related in any way to the ASC. Two of these cases were located elsewhere on Hwy. 31 south of the ASC. What does this mean? That it can happen anywhere, on any road, with any type of livestock and in no way implies that the animal owners are negligent. I would like encourage all motorists to use caution when traveling. If you see that an animal is in or near a roadway, slow down, and notify authorities and/or the owners immediately. If it does not put your safety in danger, stop and try to help.
If there is anyone that questions the information I have provided, I would like to invite you out to the saddle club. First hand knowledge is a far greater tool than speculation could ever be.
Kathy Braddock
Atmore