A fire broke out at Joyce Moxley’s Centerline Farm in Union Bridge, Maryland, on Feb. 9, killing the eight horses inside the barn. A neighbor alerted Moxley to the fire in the late afternoon, and she and her father, Rick Moxley, arrived at the barn minutes later. The flames were at the back of the barn, not immediately visible.
“The only thing we could see was the smoke,” Joyce said, “and when we got in the barn we heard the crackling of the trusses.”
When they managed to open a stall door, they realized they were too late to save the horses, which had died of smoke inhalation.
The Frederick County Fire & Rescue squad was dispatched at 4:30 p.m., and they extinguished the flames after two hours, but the roof had partially collapsed, and the barn was a total loss. The cause of the fire has not been determined, although officials have ruled out arson.
The horses were driving horses, four teams of two, and they all belonged to Joyce. She had a pair of warmbloods, one of which was a retired FEI dressage horse named Felipe; a pair of Percheron-Thoroughbred crosses, both PMU foals from Canada; and four Percherons that she had aspirations of showing this year.
“Horse people always know when they have multiple horses that losing one, to whatever reason, is kind of one of those things that you expect—or you accept,” she said. “I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would lose all eight the same day.”
Her only solace has been her community, which has gathered around to help. A local farmer, who had called Joyce during the fire, immediately set out to alert friends and neighbors. “He got the phone and put out the word, and my driveway was full of people the next morning,” said Joyce. “My dad said he thought there were about 20 people.
“We had people coming all day, and everyone is offering to help,” she continued. “From local farmers to the local 4-H club, people are doing what they can to pitch in.
Joyce has enjoyed sharing her love of driving with her neighbors and community. She’s handed over the driving lines to many aspiring equestrians, teaching them how to handle and drive horses. “I’ve taken kids to shows using my horses,” she said, “I’m always open to help kids learn.”