Arlington, Tenn. Barn Burning Leaves Horses Homeless
By Tom Burriss
It is a phone call that many of us dread getting. When the phone rings at 1:40 am, it is hard to expect good news.
This was the kind of call Amy Rainey received on January 20. Motorists travelling on highway 64, northeast of Memphis, had spotted flames and called the fire department.
The barn, which Amy and her sister, Rebecca Walden, were leasing to run their warm blood horse operation, had caught fire.
Upon arriving, Shelby County and Arlington firefighters witnessed the roof already collapsing.
"The barn was already lost by the time [they] arrived," says Amy.
Of greatest concern were their crossbred warm bloods. None of the 14 horses perished in the fire due to a stroke of good luck. The cold had snapped that weekend, and instead of leaving their four colts in the barn, Amy had turned them out the previous evening.
Their worries were not over though. The blaze had given the horses quite a scare and in their panic had dispersed themselves not only over the 80 acres which they lease, but also into the outlying area.
A search would ensue the following day. And by the time I talked to them all the horses had been captured. Four of their pregnant mares, those closest to foaling are being housed at friends' barns. The other mares they have are quickly losing condition, and the sisters are fearful they will lose those foals.
"They are starting to show more rib than belly," Amy says as she points to a mare who should be well along and showing.
The barn and land are owned by Mike and Joanne Peremba, who built the solid oak barn by hand to use for cattle. Last year, Amy and Rebecca began leasing to start a breeding program. Their program produces Frisian sport horses which they cross with other breeds. They cater mostly to Dressage and Drivers.
The Peremba's barn, including four 12 by 14 foot stalls, had been the ideal set up for them, although their first year in business has not. They have run up against numerous road blocks, including an AI program in which none of the mare took.
Then the barn. Inside was every bit of horse equipment that the pair owned. Tack, supplies, equipment....nearly $5,000 worth. It was an expensive lesson for them to learn.
"If you lease a building, make sure you get insurance," says Amy. They had not, and now the sisters have lost everything.
Their one bit of good fortune has been that the weather has been relatively mild since the fire. The horses usually make their shelter by standing behind the pond levee in order to stay out of some of the weather. To this point it is as good as they can do.
Amy and Rebecca have gotten the word out about their plight, thanks in large part to Dolores Provow and Fayette County Animal Rescue. Some leads have been found to help solve the shelter dilemma.
For now, Amy Rainey and Rebecca Walden have placed the hopes of their fledgling business in the bellies of a few mares. We hope all will turn out well for them.
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