Fire Destroys Epona Farm, But Not the Spirit of Its Members

Those of us here at dressagedaily.com were deeply saddened to hear of the tragic loss of 33 horses and the idyllic riding and dressage center of Epona Farm outside of Chicago, Illinois.

The flames are still smoldering after almost 2 weeks. One of the farms members has sent us her story. We dressage folks are good people who love their horses and their sport. I strongly urge those of you who are in a position to do so, to make a contribution of whatever amount you can muster to
Friends of Epona Farm and Dora Christensen
Fifth Third Bank

415 S. Main St.
Elburn, IL 60119
Call 630-365-9292 for information

From Tranquility to Tragedy

The warm October 5th Wednesday afternoon was winding down at Epona Farm, in Maple Park outside of Chicago. The horses were back in their stalls, munching hay after a beautiful day in the pastures. The barn workers had left for the day and the owner had run out to do a short errand.The smoke and fire came quickly, One boarder, there alone, was able to get out with her horse but could not go back in, the fire was spreading so rapidly.


From Tranquility to Tragedy

The fire departments from many surrounding communities responded but unfortunately too late for our dear, beloved horses. We lost 33 beautiful creatures that day, perishing from the smoke we were told, probably within as little as two minutes. Many witnesses spoke of the eerie silence, even at the outset, and we take some comfort in knowing they died swiftly. Even though the barn was totally destroyed our horses were all found in their stalls, lying down, at peace, no sign of panic. Many from the equine community arrived within minutes offering to help in any way they could, many bringing trailers, not knowing they would leave empty, others doing the sad job of notifying the boarders of the tragedy and helping take over tasks for the distraught owner of the barn.

All the horses were identified and given a respectful burial in a pasture on the property. Their 33 graves are all marked, they are with their barn mates, and they will always, always be with us. Some wonderful ladies from a nearby school made the crosses for their graves. On Sunday, October 9th, we had a beautiful memorial service to honor our fallen friends. So many people came, familiar faces, and many unknown, to pay their respects and give us comfort. We hope for closure, and though the healing will go on, we will need to rely on our families and friends for support for a long time. Our horses were everything to us.


From Tranquility to Tragedy

Epona Farm was a barn full of lots of fun and special people. We're predominately amateur dressage riders with a few pleasure riders.

We're mainly women --working women, stay at home moms, some who show, in other words --just folks --folks who loved our horses. We rode together, we had parties together, we were, and will always be a family. Now more than ever, we have a bond that no one can really understand, even though they try.

There are so many people to thank including our wonderful vet and his assistants who labored tirelessly to identify our horses, two very special trainers who came to our aid in so many ways, and the dear man who brought heavy equipment and worked long hours to bury our horses with respect. They, and so many others, all worked selflessly often without even being asked. We are in their debt and they will forever be in our hearts.

I have not mentioned any names because I hope to make the point that we are "Everybarn". This could happen to anyone, it could have been your stable. We never thought this would happen to us, and we still do not know the cause of the fire, the damage was so extensive. Savor every moment with your horse, be vigilant, and talk about what to do in case of a fire in your barn.


From Tranquility to Tragedy

The one person that holds us all together through this is the barn owner and trainer, Dora Christensen. She loved our horses and everything she did revolved around them. When she got Epona Farm two years ago we were all so excited, we moved in and felt truly at home, knowing she would oversee the daily lives and care of our horses. To her, the horses came first.

Many of us have been with Dora for more than 15 years and she is a wonderful, insightful, and knowledgeable trainer. She's taught us many things, but above all to respect our horses.

Sadly we've lost those great horses, but because of Dora, and with her help we will ride again, we will have horses again. She is planning to rebuild the barn and we will be with her every step of the way, supporting her every way we can.

Our biggest concern now is for Dora, our great barn workers, and the hardships they face. Insurance won't cover lost income or pay a mortgage on a demolished facility. We have set up a fund to help in whatever way is needed.

Carol Berry - One of the boarders at Epona Farm sent us this moving article. She lost her beloved horse Iggy, but in the great spirit of Mid-Western resilience, speaks for all those at Epona Farm and their will to rebuild. e-mail - berrystyle@comcast.net

Friends of Epona Farm and Dora Christensen
Fifth Third Bank

415 S. Main St.
Elburn, IL 60119
Call 630-365-9292 for information
www.eponadressage.com




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