Leduc horse rescue struggling to stay above water - literally

1 / 2
Leduc horse rescue struggling to stay above water - literally

The owner of a flooded horse rescue near Leduc is literally up to her knees in muddy water.

Tracy Benkendorf, who has 74 horses to care for at Adorado Nino, needs help. 

"It would be such help for me if I could just have someone come in and help me do some of the stuff I do every day," Benkendorf said on Wednesday. 

This year's dramatic and ongoing spring runoff has created puddles so large they look like lakes throughout Benkendorf's acreage. The ground that isn't submerged in water is so soft that it's almost all muck. 

"I don't know what to do about this water, but I know I need to get hay in here. My animals have to be taken care of," Benkendorf said. 

'I'm like the Hotel California'

Her hay supplier came on Friday and dropped off 178 square bales. He got stuck in the driveway. 

"Basically, I'm like the Hotel California. You come in here and you can't leave," Benkendorf said. 

Her hay supplier was back on Wednesday to assess whether he could make it up to drop off more, but his supply is dwindling.

"Hay, I think, is going to be a problem for people who have horses because typically we don't expect or anticipate feeding this far into the year," Benkendorf said. "And if this water persists on the property, the pasture that my horses need may not be there."

Benkendorf has given up trying to use her truck and tractor to bring hay and water to her animals. When she puts either vehicle into gear, the spinning tires just make a mess. 

Instead, she's been slipping and sliding around in her rubber boots as she hauls everything by hand to the various horse pens on her 80-acre property. Chores that normally take her three or four hours are now taking her seven or eight. 

"Every day is really a challenge and every day I say, 'OK, Tracy, tomorrow will be better,' " Benkendorf said.

But she's starting to worry about her horses' hooves since there are so few dry places for the animals to stand. She cancelled an appointment with the farrier who was scheduled to come earlier in the week, figuring that since no one else could drive around the property, he probably wouldn't be able to either. 

'I'm just at a complete loss'

Benkendorf has operated Adorado Nino on her own since 2012.

"It's quite manageable, believe it or not, for me to do," she said. "But in this weather, it's really, really challenging."

Benkendorf said she's never had problems with pooling water in the past. 

"I'm just at a complete loss as to what to do to control it," she said. 

Her immediate concern is her horses.

"You have a legal obligation to take care of your animals," said Benkendorf, who is struggling right now to do just that. 

"I love my horses. I do, I really love them. I'm really dedicated to taking care of them. They come first. They're my first priority."

roberta.bell@cbc.ca

@roberta__bell