Barn fire causes boarders to lose equipment

Story by Lindsey Coleman, Assistant News Editor 

A phone call notified her that she needed to go to Split Rail Stables as soon as possible. Upon arrival, she saw smoke billowing from the barn where her precious horse was being kept.

“Everything I had for my horse Harley is gone. But I am not the only one who lost a massive amount of supplies,” O’Bryan said. “Several other boarders and the farm owners lost thousands of dollars of equipment.

The barn, which is about five miles from campus on 121 North, caught fire Tuesday afternoon. Barn owners Lance and Marsha Harper were able to evacuate three horses, 11 goats, a mini donkey, two dogs and two cats, but one horse and one rabbit were lost in the fire. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

The horse that died did not belong to a Murray State student, but Lance said about seven of the boarders are Murray State students or are in some way affiliated with Murray State, There are 10 total boarders at the barn.

O’Bryan, junior from Bullitt County, Kentucky, said she has been a boarder at Split Rail for about a year, and she is a friend of the Harper family.

“They have really taken a lot of the girls under their wing,” she said. “They are the heroes of this story for sure. If not for Lance and Marsha, my horse, my baby, would be dead.”

She lost absolutely everything in the fire, which totaled over $10,000 worth of supplies that took 12 years to accumulate. This included brushes, reins, a helmet and many other items.

O’Bryan started a GoFundMe page for the barn on Tuesday, and so far, about $500 has been donated.

“The donations have absolutely blown us all away,” O’Bryan said. “Without the support of those donating and offering services, I wouldn’t even be able to feed my horse, much less have  a place for him to stay while we rebuild.”

Lance said in addition to the GoFundMe, people have shown up in his driveway to drop off buckets, lead ropes, halters, hay and money. Donations have come from as far as Michigan, Texas and Illinois. Ballard’s Tack and Supply in Paducah gave a $100 gift card to each boarder and is offering discounts to help them get back on their feet.

“I can’t keep up with the people who are texting, calling, messaging…” Lance said. “The response has been overwhelming in a good way.”

He said initial funds will go toward getting the girls their tack, saddles and anything to get them back to where they were. He and his wife are considering rebuilding in the future.

The boarders are in need of any barn supplies: tack, saddles, blankets, buckets, forks or hay. Monetary donations can be made on the GoFundMe page.

“The support of the community and people around the whole country is essential,” O’Bryan said. “The donations won’t cover everything, but without them, we would have nothing, and we can’t thank everyone enough for all they have done.”