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.
The Vail family started the center in the 1990s.