Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Equestrian tragedy

A fast-moving barn fire killed six horse and injured five others this morning in West Marlborough Township.

Equestrian tragedy

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Hours after a barn fire killed six Olympic-caliber showhorses in West Marlborough Township, one of the farm's owners expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support.

Evie Dutton, who owns True Prospect Farm with her husband, Phillip Dutton, said she had received about 30 messages offering assistance and condolences. She said Boyd Martin, an internationally-known trainer who leased the barn, had received triple that number as word of the tragedy spread.  

The deaths impacted many dozens of people, Dutton said, including the owners, riders, trainers, neighbors, and other competitors - as well as the larger equestrian community. She said Martin was particularly devastated; in addition to training the horses, he owned one and co-owned another. The horses competed in three-day eventing, a triathlon of dressage, cross-county and show jumping. She said the horses were "on the short list" for potential Olympic competition.

Despite the pain of the loss, Dutton said the day was full of heroics - from the three employees who pulled five horses from the barn, to the team of firefighters who attacked the blaze, to the staff at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center, where the five rescued horses are being treated for injuries.

She said the web site http://www.eventingnation.com/home/ has a list of ways that people can help.

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Aubrey Whelan covers Chester County for the Inquirer. A native of a Philadelphia suburb so small it doesn't have a zip code, she grew up reading the Inquirer and was thrilled to take a job there in fall 2012. Previously, she covered crime, courts and D.C.'s Occupy movement for the Washington Examiner. Aubrey graduated from Penn State in 2011, where she worked for the award-winning campus newspaper and majored in journalism and French. Contact her at 215-495-5855 or awhelan@philly.com. You can also follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/aubreyjwhelan.

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