NORMAN — Editor’s Note: Earlier this year, then 14-year-old Cortney Townsend, came to the rescue of a 16-year-old Ohio girl whom she had never met. Veronica Llewellyn of Wadsworth, Ohio, arrived in Oklahoma after an 1,100-mile trip to compete in the 2011 Grand National and World Championship Morgan Horse Show, only to find that her horse, Rebel, was sick and wouldn’t be able to compete. Cortney had been preparing Gulfwind Wild Finale, know as Rocky, for competition, but she was not showing at that time. Rocky and Llewellyn made a winning combination and captured the Low Working Hunter Reserve World Champion title, and also won the Grand National Hunter Seat Equitation 17 and Under Over Fences class and were a strong third in the AMHA Over Fences Medal Class.
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.”