WASHINGTON – When farm foreman Arthur Lee shut the door of the indoor riding arena at Pomfret Farm in Barnesville last Friday, he had no hint he’d leave nothing behind. Until he heard the boom.
Leading out a mare, Lee jumped and the horse bolted as roof and walls crashed behind them. Rubble was left where, moments before, the animal had stared placidly at her reflection in a mirror.
“When I looked behind me there was a whole lot of daylight that wasn’t there before,” said Lee, who had been leading horses in and out of the arena throughout the day.
Pomfret was one of at least three horse farms in Montgomery County that suffered severe damage to their indoor training facilities because of the recent blizzard.
Arena roofs at Bascule Farm and Sugarland Farm in nearby Poolesville also collapsed, owners of both facilities said.
No people or horses were injured at the three farms.
The adjoining barn at Pomfret was left intact.
“We were extremely lucky,” said farm owner Claire A. Pumphrey, who leases the Pomfret horse facilities to Linda Taylor.
Pumphrey said half of the arena did not cave in under accumulated snow, but would have to be demolished before the 60- by-120-foot, $100,000 structure could be rebuilt.
She said she hopes to finish rebuilding in six weeks.
Until then, Taylor said she’d continue to ride or ship her horses to neighboring facilities to work them.
Paul Kern, who owns the Bascule Farm arena, declined to disclose damage estimates until his claims are settled and a building contract is awarded. About a third of their roof came down last week, said horse trainer Julie Atherton-Nelson.
Estimates for losses at Sugarland also were not available, said arena owner Ruth Priest.
Stable areas fared better than training arenas, probably because they have greater structural support, farm operators said.
But even facilities that were not damaged lost income because of the storm.
The Potomac Horse Center in Gaithersburg, one of Montgomery County’s largest horse boarding and training facilities, lost at least $150,000 in income from lessons when it closed for three days last week, manager Renee Gingras estimated.
Nearly a week of canceled training sessions at Bascule Farm cost trainer Atherton-Nelson about $2,000 she said.
Friday’s flooding could cost her more, she said.
The blizzard also reduced grain consumption at farms all over the area, because animals were exercising less.
“It just killed us for a week,” said Karen Habbestad, owner of Seneca Valley Feed in Dickerson. “We couldn’t make deliveries and demand was definitely down.”
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