Search Continues for New York Thoroughbreds Lost in Flood

The owner of 22 Thoroughbred horses presumed swept away by flood waters in upstate New York during Hurricane Irene hopes aggressive ground searches will lead to the recovery of his herd.

On Aug. 28, 22 Thoroughbred stallions, mares, and foals belonging to Schorharie County, N.Y. breeder and equestrian photographer Leland Neff went missing when floodwaters connected with Hurricane Irene swelled the Schoharie Creek. The missing herd also includes a Welsh Pony and two Paint horses. Four other horses from the herd made it out of the water safely.

Neff began searching for his animals on horseback as soon as Irene-related storms ceased, however, flooding and washed out road conditions prevented extensive ground searches from getting under way.

"The horses could have been swept 50 miles down river before they could get any footing," Neff said. "There have been some sightings, but none of those horses have turned up as mine."

Now that weather and road conditions have abated enough to safely allow an extensive ground search beyond the immediate area of his 90-acre farm, Neff is hoping to connect with an experienced ground tracker to help look for the animals.

In the meantime, he hopes his horses have not been found by someone who might attempt to sell them at auction.

"That's my biggest fear right now, and I'm told there are a lot of Thoroughbreds showing up at auctions now," Neff said. "I usually don't go to auctions, but there's one tomorrow night and I'll be there."

Michele De Vinney Schmoll is coordinating the search for Neff's animals. Anyone with information about the horses' whereabouts, or who is an experienced tracker and would like to participate in the search should email her at

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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