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Small fire breaks out at Santa Barbara horse facility

A fire destroyed an outdoor hay barn at the Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Santa Barbara Thursday morning.

The flames ruined a newly delivered load of hay, used to feed the horses on the property, and the heat damaged tack gear in a storage unit next to the barn. Sixteen horses were on the property at the time of the fire. Sheriff’s officials moved them out of the way and none were hurt.

“This is a huge loss but it’s nothing compared to losing animals which we did not,” said Hearts Therapeutic volunteer Connie Weinsoff.

Santa Barbara County Fire officials say the fire started just before 7 a.m. and the smoke could be seen from miles away. Firefighters had the flames out within minutes but the cause of the fire remains unclear.

The Hearts Equestrian Therapeutic Center released the following statement from Executive Director Alexis Weaver:

“Fortunately, all of our horses are safe and were not affected by the fire this morning. Their safety and the safety of our students and staff (who were not on-site at the early morning time) is our top priority, and we are grateful to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department and Fire Department for quickly responding to the blaze and moving our horses out of the way.

“Sadly, our hay barn was destroyed in the blaze which includes grains, supplements, and medicines to feed our horses. We also lost about half of the gear in our tack shack, the proceeds of which provide scholarships for Hearts students. We thank everyone who has called or stopped by to offer their support – and we graciously welcome donations of any size from the community as we work to rebuild our hay barn.”

Hearts Therapeutic is an organization that helps people with wide-range of disabilities through therapeutic horseback riding.

Riding lessons for students will resume on Friday.

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