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Video courtesy of Delaware Online's YouTube channel
What a welcome back from a stunning holiday weekend: Reality slammed us in the face today, and sent the US sport horse community reeling.
Today's late-night/early-morning barn fire at True Prospect Farm in southeastern Pennsylvania resulted in the death of six event horses. Four additional horses were transported to the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center and three people, believed to be employees of either the farm or Martin, were taken to a local hospital.
True Prospect Farm is owned by Phillip & Evie Dutton and Bruce Duchossois, according to Phillip Dutton's web site, and is located in West Grove, Pennsylvania, about an hour from Philadelphia. The horses at the farm were being trained by Boyd Martin, an Australian eventing rider who moved to the United States in 2007 and recently changed nationalities to ride for the USA. He earned instant success and a loyal, enthusiastic following as the top-finishing American team member at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. He and his wife have been training their horses at the Dutton-owned farm and live in the area.
Martin's WEG mount, Neville Bardos, is one of the horses undergoing treatment at New Bolton Center.
The six horses killed in the fire were Faye Woolf's Call Me Ollie, Henley House Stables' Charla, Lillian Heard's Ariel, Kimberly Golden's Phantom Pursuit, Bonnie Stedt's Cagney Herself, and Anne Hennessey's Summer Breeze.
In addition to Neville Bardos, the three horses at New Bolton Center in treatment are Otis Barbotiere, Catch a Star and Ambassador's Rose.
Lillian Heard, Caitlin Silliman and Ryan Wood evacuated five horses. All three were treated and released from medical treatment at a local hospital.
Dressage rider Silva Martin, wife of rider Boyd, wrote on her blog today, "Obviously this is a difficult time, and our deepest condolences go out to everyone connected with these horses. We are grateful for your thoughts and prayers and all of the messages and well wishes that we have been receiving from the eventing community. We will keep you updated as we receive more information."
The horses killed and injured in the fire were not necessarily owned by Boyd Martin, since eventing is customarily a sport in which horses are owned perhaps jointly by a rider and sponsor or patron, or exclusively by a patron. Other horses may have been at the farm specifically for training, or have been the property of farm employees. This means that the losses are spread out over a larger group of people than a typical barn fire, if there is such a thing as a typical barn fire.
Our friends at Eventing Nation had a report on the fire online this morning and have continued to update the story throughout the day, including biographies and photos of the horses who were killed. I'm sure they will continue to have more news, as will Boyd and Silva's blog.
I'll share any news that comes my way either on this blog or via Twitter, if you follow The Jurga Report there (http://www.twitter.com/franjurga), which you are welcome to do.
I'll add at the end here that there are great advances being made to treat horses with burns, and I am sure that the staff at New Bolton Center is working hard to do everything in their power to help the horses in their care.
The new platform for The Jurga Report does not allow the embedding of a wide variety of video formats like the old one did, so I can only provide a link here, but I hope you will take a moment to watch this video about an Oldenburg mare named Suki who was badly burned in a barn fire but who is making a big comeback in New Jersey. I found this video to be a very hopeful one to watch after today's news.
That's the only good-news spin I can think of for this story.
Sources for this article includes Phillip Dutton Eventing, Boyd and Silva Martin's blog, University of Pennsylvana, US Equestrian Federation and US Eventing Association.