When the unthinkable happens, somehow life goes on, and Kristen Becker one of the USA’s top Young Rider Graduates is doing just that after the devastating loss of her four horses including her FEI mount Ramses in a devastating barn fire which killed 18 horses and completely wiped out all that was in it. Becker’s two retired horses, her childhood pony “Moo” Moollennium and first High Performance horse Frankentraum both 22 years old along with Ramses her Grand Prix, Young Rider Medalist and Brentina Cup veteran, and a 2 year old filly Direct Flight, "Diva with great promise joined the souls of their barn mates in the early morning hours of January 31, at the Brookwood Equestrian Center, in Bishop, Georgia. In spite of her own devastating loss, Becker is seeking a way to help raise money for the other trainers and owners who she shared her daily routine with who lost their horses and equipment in the hour it took for the flames to change everyone’s lives forever. “I'd really like to coordinate something to help all those who lost so much.” said Becker who is finding her effort a way to begin to heal. A fundraising effort has begun with over $6,000 raised in two days at gofundme.com going directly to those who lost horses and equipment.
“The community is very western. I had some great friends and some great rides with a few of the reiners at the farm. I worked closely with my training actually with the training of Dan Burle at the farm as well who is 100% western. It was amazing to see the two sports so closely related when it came down to it. I'd like to raise funds from the ‘Dressage World’ and combine them with what they raise from the ‘Western World’. Dan lost all of his students horses along with a few of his own and so his income his gone as well. Where do I even start to do this? Do you think it's even possible? I've had hundreds of people reach out to me...I just don't know where to begin.”
Ironically, Becker who graduated in 2012 from college is currently working for State Farm Insurance in Athens, Georgia, and has plans to begin her own agency in the future. “I talk about the possibility of devastation every day. Never did I think it would happen to me of course.” Only Becker’s Brentina Cup hopeful, Ramses was insured of the four horses she owned, and to the best of her knowledge, he was the only horse in the barn that was.
Becker moved from Illinois to Georgia to be closer to her trainer Roel Theunissen who she has always given credit for their success. “Ramses and I would have probably been stuck at second level forever without him. We had quite an interesting experience with teaching him flying changes; funny how changes ended up becoming the easiest thing for him in the long run.” recalled Becker. “I owe just about all of my success to Roel. Roel was also very attached to him as I've been in and out of their previous barn After the Fox for about 9 years.”
Becker continues to gain strength from the outpouring of sympathy and support from the equestrian community, and is finding solace in her efforts to help the others affected by the devastating loss.
Kristen Becker Honors The Memory of Her Equine Family
In the early morning hours of January 31, 2014 an electrical fire swept through the Brookwood Equestrian Center, in Bishop, Georgia, and in just 90 minutes Kristen Becker’s lifelong family, a pony, her first Dressage Schoolmaster, her star Grand Prix horse she trained from training level, and a promising young 2 year old filly with great promise were gone, along with 14 other barn mates, and all tack, equipment.
I am still at a loss for words but I greatly appreciate the opportunity to honor my “children”. Frankentraum "Frankie" was 22 and my sweet, retired school master by Frederichus. I showed him successfully through I2. I have had him for about 12 years. He taught me Dressage and I would be nowhere without him. He is the best trainer I could ever have had. He expected nothing less than perfection.
Moollennium "Moo" was 22 as well and was the pony I got when I was 6. I did hunter jumpers with him, eventing, and some very entertaining training level tests. He impacted so many people and beginning riders and the support I have received regarding him is tremendous. He was retired as well, but we had fun jumping bareback still to this day.
Direct Flight, "Diva", by Don de Marco was the filly I’ve had for a year. She would have been 2 in February and was one of the sweetest horses I've ever had a chance to work with. She holds a very special place in my heart.
Ramses, "Ruben" (Hamlet) was 16 this year and would have been my ninth season with him, 4th at Grand Prix. He writes his own history; Three times Brentina Cup, 3 times Young Riders, and we won triple Silver in Junior Young Riders. I earned my USDF Gold medal on him three years ago. He was fantastic at his Dressage "job", but nothing compared to fun we had galloping through the woods and going on adventures. No horse could ever come close to the bond that I formed with him. He was truly special. From Training Level to Grand Prix, w had a fantastic journey.
I had a very different relationship with all four of them, and I grieve for each and every one of them. They were my life and I'm at a loss. There is a special place in my heart for each of them.
I am haunted by the way they were taken from me. The hardest part besides losing them is losing all of my tack and equipment along with them. I did manage to recover their bits and a few halter buckles. Their browbands, saddles. blankets, .everything.
I do plan on starting again as that is the only way I see myself able to move forward. I am looking at young prospects for a fresh start. There were 18 horses that lost their lives. I was working with quite a few of them. May they all rest in peace.