Equestrian team barn destroyed in lightning storm

Late-afternoon summer storms on Aug. 7 brought devastating losses to the Bonnie Lea Farm on North Street, where the College’s equestrian team has boarded their horses in recent years.

A bolt of lightning traveled through the barn’s electrical wiring and sparked a bale of hay, igniting a fire that caused irreparable damage to the barn. “Despite the fantastic combination of luck, desperation and sheer dedication responsible for the rescue of all the animals in the barn, the fire was devastating for Bonnie Lea,” said Rachel Schneebaum ’09, co-captain of the team. “The DeMayos [the owners of the barn] lost thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment and an entire winter’s store of hay, not to mention the loss of the building itself.”

There were children and horses in the barn when the fire started. Five children from the area had sought out the barn for shelter during the storm, but they quickly ran outside when the fire started.

According to Schneebaum, some of the horses that lost their stalls were sent to friends’ or relatives’ barns temporarily, and others are living outside in fields while it’s still warm enough. “They have begun construction on a new barn, and it’s coming along nicely,” she said.

The equestrian team will be boarding and training elsewhere this year, but the squad will not terminate its relationship with the DeMayos. “Regardless of where we train this year, the team has years of history with Bonnie Lea and the DeMayos, and the fire and its consequences have been terrifying and devastating for us as well,” Schneebaum said. “In addition to preparing for the upcoming competition season, the team is dedicated to finding ways to help the DeMayos however we can.”