Minn. Native Loses 12 Horses in Oklahoma Tornado

Updated: 05/27/2013 7:17 AM KSTP.com By: Tim Sherno

Randy Weidner
Randy Weidner
Photo: Tim Sherno

Randy Weidner says he's been around horses his entire life. The Rosemount, Minn., native trains racehorses and he was in a horse barn in Moore, Okla., when the devastating tornado began forming. At 2:56 he snapped a picture of the twister as it started to take shape.

Weidner says a storm-chasing crew had driven up in a marked vehicle and began to observe the cloud. Weidner says he went to get his girlfriend, and then by the time she came outside, the twister had grown,  "It was big tornado. No question, it's a big tornado, and it was close."

As the storm approached, Weidner says his first instinct was to load up his trailer, "Let's get some horses in there and let's get out of the way."

But there was no time. Moments later, the storm chasing crew was on the move, "The storm chasers threw their stuff in their truck and drove by and said, 'You guys gotta get outta here.'

At 3:04, driving away from the barn, he says he heard on the radio that the building that housed his horses took a direct hit. More than 100 horses died in the barn and other buildings nearby. Weidner says it's like losing family, "Some people say, they're just horses, but to us they're like family. We provide for them and they provide for us. What did I lose? I lost my job, my house and my best friends."

Weidner says the outpouring from the world of horse racing has been tremendous, "Everything I'm wearing came from other people."

Weidner says 12 horses he was training were lost in the storm, some of them his own. Only one of the horses he planned to bring to Canterbury Park for this year's race season is in its stall. Weidner says he was unable to arrange for the horse to be transported to be with the others in Moore, and would have been killed with the rest had it been transported. Weidner says he plans to rebuild with that horse, and hopes to add others as the season goes on.

If you would like to help Randy Weidner you can make a donation, contact Wells Fargo, the Randall Weidner Catastrophe Trust.