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Storm Babet: Dozens of horses and ponies evacuated from flood-hit riding school

Nearly 50 horses and ponies have been evacuated after floodwater deluged a riding school in Nottinghamshire.

St Leonard’s Riding School And Livery Stable in Toton cancelled lessons and scrambled to move the animals after its facilities were left “underwater” amid Storm Babet.

Dramatic photos show the horses standing in flooded fields, while the stables were also submerged, causing extensive damage.

Autumn weather October 22nd 2023
Flooding at St Leonard’s Riding School and Livery Stable in Toton, Nottinghamshire (Sally Carnelley/PA)

Sally Carnelley, 69, and her daughter Tara, 39, keep about 22 of their own horses and ponies on-site, also caring for some 28 livery horses.

Ms Carnelley said the water damage has left 3ft “craters” in the ground.

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“Everything’s been destroyed by the water,” she said.

“It’s devastating. It looks like an earthquake. It’s like the earth has moved, it’s moved all the floor.

“You wouldn’t believe it was just flood, you’d think it was an earthquake.”

She added: “Our manege track area has got a roof around the outside, that’s still standing. But the actual, where the waters come across, it’s dug out 3ft massive craters, it’s just absolutely awful.

“You can’t even drive into our yard hardly because all the tarmac’s been tipped up and the yard’s just in holes as well.

“The strength of the water has come across the main road and it’s come across from our rivers, because we’ve got rivers all around us as well, the River Erewash that we’re on. And it’s just come across with such a torrent that it’s dug out the whole of the area.”

Autumn weather October 22nd 2023
Flooding at St Leonard’s Riding School and Livery Stable in Toton (Sally Carnelley/PA)

She said her daughter moved the ponies from the flooded field to a paddock on Friday, only to return the next morning to discover that too had been submerged.

Ms Carnelley said it was “devastating” to see the animals “standing up to their belly, nearly in water”.

The animals have been temporarily rehomed in other areas of Nottingham after people offered to help, she said.

A GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign to “help our ponies” has so far raised more than £2,000 towards its £5,000 target to help the business.

The page says: “They give so much to the local community, so please can we support them to get this riding school back up and running.”