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Horses at Mitchellville stable are safe following tornado, but barn needs rebuilt

The owner of Menagerie Stables is starting to pick up the pieces after the barn they used was ripped apart by the tornado.

MITCHELLVILLE, Iowa — A business that uses horses as therapy to help individuals with special needs is continuing to pick up the pieces after a tornado ripped apart their barn in Mitchellville.

Deanne Mundt, the owner of Menagerie Stables, said when she walked into the barn on March 5, she was shocked.

"Your thoughts are just in disbelief at the power of mother nature."

The roof was torn off and the wood was mangled. 

"I really thought when I got in the back ... [the horses] would be so injured we'd have to put them down right then," Mundt added.

However, all 14 horses she owns were safe. They are temporarily staying at a friend's barn in Altoona. 

Part of her business uses the horses to offer adaptive riding lessons to people with special needs. 

She said she would have about 50 to 60 lessons a month.

"So you can help kids build muscle memory learning to walk," Mundt said.  "The heat of the horse loosens up their muscles and also it's a huge sensory experience for anybody working through sensory issues."

However, her regular barn getting demolished means helping her clients is paused because her temporary location only has enough space to store her horses.

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One of those clients is Natalia, who is non-verbal.

Her mother, Amanda Tollari, said the adaptive lessons have helped her daughter grow over the years, but not having them for a while is not fun to think about.

Her daughter's favorite horse, Star, has helped her learn to walk and have control over different functions of her body.

"Without the barn, [the horse and Natalia] really won't have a place to connect, so Natalia won't be able to see Star and have the interactions and get her therapies all in one," Tollari said.

And though Mundt is in the early stages of putting the pieces of her business back together, she is looking forward to the future. 

"We are hoping to build within a year our own place so we can really gear it towards special needs population, that's my focus."

Mundt hopes to rebuild in Polk County to still be able to serve the came clients she does now. To help her rebuild, Saddlebred Academy created a GoFundMe for them.

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