‘It was terrifying’: rider appeals for help after stables are destroyed by freak Halloween tornado

  • An event rider and veterinary physiotherapist has been left trying to rebuild her stables from the ground up after they were lifted in the air and destroyed by a freak “tornado”.

    Jennifer Olivier and her husband Tris keep their six horses on land opposite their Northamptonshire home and were there to witness their 11-year-old stable block being flung on to neighbouring allotments on Sunday (31 October).

    “I was sitting in the house when all of a sudden there was a tornado of leaves that blew in, the windows, which are PVC and stiff to close, slammed shut and there was a sound like a jet engine roaring,” Jennifer told H&H.

    “I thought I’d better go and get the ducks in while Tris ran over to the field and as he ran, he could see our wind turbine, which generates our electricity, going faster and faster. Then he saw the whole stable block lift in the air, splinter and roll into the allotments — it was like you see in the movies, it was horrifying.

    “If our horses had been in, at least one would have been killed and two others injured.”

    All that remained of her eventer Rocco’s stable, which measured 24ft x 12ft, was the base matting on the floor.

    “It’s all just splintered and the roof looks like torn tinfoil. There may be some minor parts that are salvageable but it’s finding the time, money and help,” she said.

    Jennifer added that the stable block had withstood worse weather in the past but that hedges and trees on the neighbouring allotments had recently been cut down, removing any natural shelter.

    Debris from the stables scattered on neighbouring allotments

    “There were no excessively strong winds forecast but it seems to have been a problem locally, as there were a few trees down in the village as well,” she said.

    The couple’s horses, who are used to being in at night, had to be turned out 24/7 just as the cold snap hit.

    “We have now run out of grass in the field and when we put hay out they fight over it,” she said. “They kicked the gate in overnight as they wanted to come in and they let themselves into the top field but then wouldn’t come any further up as they didn’t want to come near the yard — they’ve been quite shaken up by it.”

    The destruction of the yard has meant another large expense in a year in which the couple have already faced hefty vets’ bills following the loss of a horse and two cats.

    Jennifer also struggles with heavy lifting following surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy for breast cancer a few years ago.

    “When I had a mastectomy, they cut all the lymph nodes out on the left-hand side and cut through the costabrachial nerve, so I can’t feel anything through my left arm and because of that I over-strained the bicep. I’ve gone on to compensate with the right one and now that has problems as well — I basically have tendonitis in both elbows,” she said.

    “As long as the horses have food, water and shelter, I don’t care about what happens to me and I’d gladly break myself but physically I can’t do it.”

    Jennifer has started to sell off equestrian items to raise funds for the rebuild and has also launched a JustGiving page.

    “We would both live in a shoebox as long as the animals had everything they need. If it was for me I’d be too proud to ask for help but there is no way I am going to be able to do this myself at the moment, which is embarrassing and frustrating,” she said. “When you have animals these things happen and you can’t predict it.”

    Members of the equestrian community have already rallied round, with Chris Pimley from Midnight Blue Equestrian using his days off to help begin clearing debris.

    “He saw one of my Facebook posts and has come out to help dismantle everything and has been here working single-handedly while Tris is at work,” Jennifer said. “We’re incredibly grateful to him. When he got here he said it looked even worse than the pictures!

    “If the horses weren’t so stressed being out at night we might have managed but at the moment, we are having to ask for help.”

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