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Family and show horses stranded by storm, but Eden made room for them all

GLOBAL WARMING? — A local family was stranded in Eden, after wintry weather left them in conditions like those experienced by the individual pictured above. Photo by Jeffrey Barnes.
EDEN — A family of three from southern Ontario, along with their three horses, found themselves stranded in the town of Eden, during the Blizzard of 2014.

To make matters worse, they arrived in the midst of Eden’s driving ban.

Heading back to their home in Southern Ontario from a horse show in Florida, the family ran into the polar vortex, while traveling Route 20 in Pennsylvania.

Confronted with closed roads, the family members rerouted to Route 62 and eventually found themselves smack in the middle of a driving ban in the town of Eden.

They were forced to suspend their travel by the Eden police, at a road block set up to stop traffic from entering the town.

With nowhere to turn and nowhere to go, they were met by Eden Emergency Services Manager Robert Stickney. The family, Rick Fleetwood and Robin and Rianna Storey, could be sheltered at the Eden Fire Hall, where a warming station had been established.

But what to do with the three quarter horses?

The family’s horse trailer was unheated and local temperatures hovered around zero for much of the day, with a wind-chill factor well below zero.

The four-legged travelers’ journey had been interrupted in Eden, a rural farming community not unfamiliar with equine needs.

Stickney began calling around, looking for available space in which to house the horses for the night.

He contacted Dr. Kevin O’Gorman and his wife Joyce and were told that the one-time horse ranch of O’Gorman’s deceased parents had an empty three-horse stable that could be available.

The house itself was occupied by the O’Gorman’s 28-year-old son Ryan, but the stables had not been used in more than a decade.

Ryan O’Gorman advised that he would “clear the stables out and get them ready for the horses.” The problem then became getting the horses to the stable.

Complicating the entourage’s plight was the fact that the vehicle towing the horse trailer was “a two-wheel-drive truck with summer tires,” according to Eden Highway Superintendent Ron Maggs.

Sandrock Road was plowed and grit was scattered along its path, to afford the truck and trailer traction up the hill on Sandrock, on its trek to the O’Gorman stable on Krug Road.

When the horses were brought to the stable, it was discovered that the stable doors were inaccessible, due to the length and height of the drifted snow.

According to O’Gorman, the only access was through what he described as “human doors,” the regular-sized doorways meant for people.

While O’Gorman said that it was no small feat to squeeze the animals through such a doorway, the horses were finally led into the stables. O’Gorman visited the animals several times during the night, to check on his guests who, although he said they were unsettled, were warm and bundled in horse blankets, away from the chill wind.

The human family members ate dinner at Eat’sa Pizza in Eden on Jan. 7, before bedding down in the fire hall for the night.

The next morning, when the driving ban was lifted, and after breakfast was provided by the town, the family was off, to secure the horses and continue the journey home to Cambridge, Ontario.

Commenting on the incident, Stickney said, “You can make all the emergency plans you can, [but] you just cannot plan for everything without getting thrown a curve.”

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