As the fourth worst snowstorm in the Denver metro's history made its way into Castle Rock last month, a group of dads were called to help save a 20-year-old horse. A group known as Dads of Castle …
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As the fourth worst snowstorm in the Denver metro's history made its way into Castle Rock last month, a group of dads were called to help save a 20-year-old horse.
A group known as Dads of Castle Rock, came together in a big way as heavy snow started falling on the evening of March 13. A call-out for help from the group's vice president, Brad Langerak, led to a search and rescue effort involving trucks, tractors and many people willing to weather the storm to help a member of the community.
Around 4:30 p.m., Langerak said he got a call for help. He said the owner of the local ranch had gone out of town on business, leaving his 24-year-old son in charge. When the young man called to report his mare had wondered off, and he could not get her back, Langerak said he decided to drive to the ranch. Before leaving, he posted a call for help to the Dads of Castle Rock Facebook page.
As he was driving, Langerak said he got stuck in snowdrifts. He realized the weather conditions were worsening, prompting him to send a warning on Facebook again that conditions were not safe.
Soon, word traveled to other ranchers and residents. Langerak said some nearby ranchers brought tractors and dug him out, along with other drivers whose vehicles had gotten stuck.
“When we got to the horse, she was laying on her side shivering,” Langerak said. “We started putting blankets on her and another wave of guys came out to help. She just kept shivering, and I really thought we were going to lose her.”
With about 15 dads surrounding the horse, Langerak said they all got to work, shoveling the snow out from around her. The men took off their coats to give her another layer of warmth.
“We had a couple from another nearby ranch come out, thankfully,” Langerak said. “We didn't know anything about horses. They were able to tell us how to position her legs and how to try and get her standing.”
Before long, Langerak said it was clear the horse was not going to be able to stand on her own, requiring a new plan.
“We started using the tractor to drag her through a lot of snow,” he said. “Every few feet, we had to stop and let the horse breathe, take the snow off her face and make sure she was stable.”
The process continued, Langerak said, up until about 100 feet from the barn's door. The tractor could not go any further, which required the group to pull the horse onto a tarp and work together to pull her into safety.
Once inside, Langerak said they gave her food, water and hoped that she would be OK.
It took six hours to bring the mare to safety, he said.
“In the end, we were completely gassed and tired, but we were hooting and hollering when we got that horse into the barn,” Langerak said.
While the rancher who owns the horse declined to be identified, he said he deeply appreciated how the community came together that night to save his horse.
“This is exactly what the Dads of Castle Rock is all about,” Langerak said. “There were guys I have never met before showing up, risking their lives, and risking their vehicles to save this horse. It was a remarkable experience.”
Landerak said in 2018 when the Dads of Castle Rock group was formed, it was to create a sense of community and bond. In 2019, the group became an official nonprofit with aspirations to truly help the Castle Rock community.
Besides risking their lives in the blizzard-like conditions, the Dads of Castle Rock have raised more than $170,000 over the past two years. The money, going back into the community, has been used to adopt more than 13 families at Christmas, put tires on a local mom's van, build a wheelchair ramp for an injured police officer to go camping and many more projects.
Langerak said the Dads of Castle Rock, with a Facebook following of more than 1,800, wants to be an organization the community can rely on not just for money, but for assistance when needed.
Anyone needing assistance from the local group can visit their website at www.docrco.org/.
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