FORT BRAGG, N.C. - After devastating tornadoes damaged Fort Bragg in April, the riding stables at Smith Lake were effectively closed as the facility's administration building was significantly damaged and riding trails were blocked by storm debris. Coupled with overgrazing of the pasture for the horses, Fort Bragg's garrison commander decided against reopening the stables at their current location in lieu of finding a more suitable and sustainable site for the riding stables.

"This isn't a decision made lightly, but one that had to be made for the health of the horses at Smith Lake," said Col. Stephen Sicinski, Fort Bragg Garrison commander.

"There is a financial element to the closure, but that is a small factor in this decision. More pressing is finding a location that can support the herd size that would best serve the Fort Bragg ridership."

A message posted Oct. 21, on Fort Bragg's Facebook account reads, "The reasons for closing the horse stables at Smith Lake were both operational and financial in nature. After careful consideration of all factors, the Garrison Commander made the decision to close. The stables suffered severe damage during the tornadoes this past Spring and repairs to the barns, administrative building, and pasture and trail areas are still not complete."

Reaction to the closing, as reflected in responses on Fort Bragg's Facebook page, illustrates that the tornadoes of April 16, continue to impact the Fort Bragg community.

"Very sad, especially that a natural disaster has robbed our community of a wonderful opportunity," read one comment.

The stables are home to 23 government horses, said Sabina Bryant, chief, Outdoor Recreation, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. The number of privately owned horses varies because customers are in the process of finding new boarding for those animals, she said.

A special horse auction will be held, Nov. 17, at 10 a.m., according to the FMWR website. It will be open to the public.

Bryant said the auction would be managed by the MWR NAF property warehouse.

Patrons interested in bidding on the horses must submit an application prior to the auction. The application can be accessed through
The application can also be submitted to Sabina Bryant at IMSE-BRG-MWR-O, Building 4-1469 Reilly St., Fort Bragg, N.C. 28310-5000.

Bryant can also be reached by phone at 396-7060/7531, by fax at 396-1675 or email at

Other items to be auctioned include tack gear, saddles, blankets and mats. All items will be auctioned separately. Pictures of the horses will be posted online and displayed at the warehouse, which is located in Building 2-2814, Jackson St. Interested bidders may view the horses in person or at the stables prior to auction day, with designated viewing times being Wednesdays, from 1 to 4:30 p.m. and/or Saturdays, from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

For updates, visit the Fort Bragg, FMWR and Fort Bragg Paraglide Facebook pages.