Muddy Brook Farm in Amherst, Massachusetts, lost three school horses in a fire on Nov. 3. The cause of the fire is not yet known, but it destroyed the entire building.
The horses who perished were Leah and Noah, ponies used in Muddy Brook’s lesson program and in intercollegiate and Interscholastic Equestrian Association events, as well as Trinket, who was at Muddy Brook on lease from Fritz Seving for their lesson program.
Muddy Brook Farm, owned by Kathy Roberts and her family, is home to the University of Massachusetts Western Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association team, but they hosted many other IEA, Intercollegiate Dressage Association, IHSA and Western New England Professional Horseman’s Association shows. They also lend horses to other teams hosting shows in the area and offer hunt seat and dressage lessons.
The farm has more than 60 horses on site, but only six were in the barn that caught fire. The other three horses in the barn were able to be rescued, although one of the horses, Stella, left the barn with her blanket on fire.
“Kathy was trying to get to Leah, and the fire was so intense that she couldn’t get through it to save her,” said C.J. Law, Mount Holyoke College equestrian coach and clinician at Muddy Brook. “The other two ponies would not leave the barn, so she couldn’t get them out.
“Stella is doing fine now,” Law continued. “Parts of the blanket melted into her body, so she has some burns that they’re trying to heal.”
Morgan Lynch, Mount Holyoke College assistant coach, wrote on Facebook: “People keep asking what they can do or give. We lost all school horse tack, brushes, saddle pads, girths, hunt seat saddles, dressage saddles, hunt seat bridles ranging from small ponies to large horses, dressage bridles, school helmets for the lesson program, paddock boots for our students who come to lesson, front and hind boots for the horses, medical supplies for the horses, feed tubs, water buckets, and our washer and dryer. Boarders also lost their tack trunks.”
The building that burned down housed offices for Roberts and her father, an apartment, a tack room and eight stalls. None of the other buildings on the property were harmed, and the boarder’s tack room in a different building was saved.
Sarah Clancy started a GoFundMe for the farm, asking for donations to help get the farm back up and running.
“She’s just a person that wants to help out,” Law explained. “She also started a GoFundMe for my student Mika [McKinney], who passed away from bone cancer a year ago. She just wants to help Muddy Brook out.”
The University of Massachusetts-Amherst equestrian teams are also asking for donations to help Muddy Brook and have a central drop-off location at their farm in Hadley.
“It is important in times like these for us to reflect and think about the things that truly matter,” Clancy wrote on the GoFundMe page. “Every barn has years and years of memories, hard work and friendships that would never have existed if it weren’t for the animals we love so much.”
The team at Muddy Brook is doing their best to clean up the farm and hopes to have their lesson program running again next week.
“This is one of those types of barns that has a wonderful environment and sense of community,” Law said. “They have very serious riders who are involved in the care of the place; the kids exchange work for their lessons. Muddy Brook is one of those groups of people who helps everybody out. It’s great to see the horse community rallying around this family and their facility.”