Stoughton, Massachusetts - This winter has proven exhausting for all in the Northeast, especially the equestrian community. As people spend hours each day clearing paths for their horses, eyes are automatically drawn to barn roofs where ice dams and snow drifts have historically compromised even the most secure structures. Such an event occurred at Dry Water Farm in Stoughton, Massachusetts, Feb. 14.
After morning chores, Dry Water Farm employee Marcos Milhomens noticed the ceiling on the south side of the barn beginning to buckle. He immediately notified the owners Davie and Eddie McNamara as well as barn manager, Danielle McNamara. Without hesitation, Milhomens began to move horses to the outside paddocks and to the north side of the barn, where no snow had collected on the roof.
The Stoughton Fire Department was notified and arrived on the scene along with a structural engineer. They deemed the building condemned and informed the McNamaras that no one would be allowed to enter the barn with out an escort from the fire department. The horses would need to be moved in a timely manner, as the structure continued to shift, causing the arena door to collapse as well, posing an additional threat as it was blown about by the wind.
The McNamaras contacted a number of individuals in an effort to create a safe, systematic means to evacuate the horses. Veterinarian Kendyl Foristal-Drass arrived to assist with any medical issues the horses may have had, while farrier and trainer Jason Drass assisted with horses having difficulty loading onto trailers. The Animal Rescue League of Boston arrived to offer support and MEMA sent a representative to monitor the situation. Social media was used to cast pleas for transportation and housing for the 33,soon to be displaced horses. Within the first hour, the posting had received more than 1,000 hits, ultimately receiving more than 10,000 hits and shares. The response was overwhelming. Trucks and trailers arrived from all over southeastern Massachusetts. In less than three hours, every horse was safely relocated to a new stable. The horses were welcomed at Victory Stables in Stoughton, Clover Valley Farm in Easton, Fieldstone Farm in Halifax, Walnut Hill Farm in Plainville, Kerrybrook Farm in Bridgewater, Dorbill Stables in Bridgewater and the Gibson Family farm in Stoughton.
In addition to a comprehensive boarding and lesson program, Dry Water Farm is home to the Stonehill College Equestrian Team and is the summer location for Warren-McMullin Dressage. Bill Warren and Bill McMullin used their contacts in the dressage community and made connections for support while they were working in Florida.
Since Sunday’s disaster, an outpouring of support has continued. Smartpak has offered to send the horses their supplements at their temporary facilities at no charge. The farm receives calls on a daily basis offering more permanent housing for the horses and space for the lesson program to continue. A “Go Fund Me” site (http://www.gofundme.com/dwfcommunity) has been set up to accept the generous donations individuals have offered to assist with the costs associated with rebuilding. While the farm has insurance, there is still a significant deductible that needs to be covered as well as the expenses associated with the relocation of the horses.
Moving forward the McNamaras are motivated by the strength and caring that has been shown to them through the equestrian community. They plan to rebuild and continue to be a part of the group of extraordinary people who have been so good to them.