OREGON, Ohio — Ten horses and other farm animals perished early today when a fire destroyed a 100-year-old barn at a northwestern Ohio equestrian center that provides horse-riding therapy programs for the disabled, authorities said.
The fire in the 100-by-100-foot wood-framed barn at the Vail Meadows Equestrian Center in Oregon was reported at about 3:30 a.m. Thursday. The horses — including six that were used for therapy purposes — as well as several goats, pigs and fowl died in the barn.
“That was our whole program,” Mike McGee, a Toledo police sergeant and member of the Vail family told The Blade newspaper. “We’re going to try and keep the program going but we’ll have to start over … We’ve got a lot of kids that depend on us.”
McGee said the horses trained for years for the therapy programs and had calm temperaments. One of them was a retired Toledo police horse.
The cause hasn’t been determined. McGee said damage was thought to be about $100,000.
Vail Meadows Equestrian Center is a 25-acre farm and housed about 35 horses. It offers horseback riding as therapy to people with disabilities, as well as services to able-bodied riders. There are currently about 40 people with disabilities involved in the program.