Cross-posted from the Norman Transcript
WRITTEN BY CHRIS JONES
NORMAN, Okla. (Aug. 11, 2012) — Gulfwind Wild Finale “Rocky” is a champion, high strung and not easily loaded into a horse trailer.
In the midst of wildfires and 113-degree heat, Cortney Townsend made a harrowing five-mile ride to get Rocky away from danger.
Cortney began the hot and windy morning of Aug. 3 at Celtic Cross Equestrian Center in Norman, where she volunteers and trains for the 2012 Grand National and World Championship Morgan Horse Show.
It was about noon when Cortney said she, her trainer Marilee Tussing, and Mike Bomesberger, the barn manager smelled smoke.
“We saw white smoke, then it turned black, and it was coming closer,” Cortney said. “We began moving horses by horse trailers to Thunderbird Stables.”
It was a frantic race for a time as Marilee Tussing, owner of Celtic Cross, contacted owners to alert them of the fire, and they began moving the 20 horses, among them two pregnant Clydesdale mares.
Smoke and fire seemed to surround them.
“The fire was coming straight at us at Thunderbird and we had to move again,” Cortney said. “Rocky has trouble loading and he wouldn’t get in the trailer. I either had to leave Rocky or ride him to the barn at Thunder Valley Ranch on 108th St.”
She called her grandparents, Edward and Betty Edwards of Norman, and told them what she planned to do.
“I was scared,” Betty Edwards said. “Cortney wouldn’t leave that horse for anything.”
The grandparents knew Cortney was in danger but were unable to help her because by the time they were aware of the situation Highway 9 had closed. They said they began to pray.
Fleeing the Fires
“I had no saddle, no bridle or bit,” Cortney said. “Rocky was really nervous, and all I had was a rope and his halter. That was it, and there were cars all around me on Highway 9. It was like the world’s gone mad, and I thought, don’t look back, just keep going forward.”
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