The night of Dec. 31, Anna Lyman, owner of Rose Hill Farms, woke up to a popping noise. Her room was covered in a red glow. She soon realized her beloved stables, which sat in front of her home and housed 17 horses, were up in flames.
She grabbed her baby and ran outside. Her husband tried to stop the blaze with a fire extinguisher, but even firefighters called to the scene couldnâ€™t put it out.
It was impossible to go into the barn â€” the smoke was so thick, the air was completely black. The horses, following their instincts, stayed inside. There was no way to save them.
â€œThe barn was just so dry and old, and it was gone in 30 minutes,â€ said Melanie Bell, whose old horse Cajun Sun lived in the barn.
The next day all that was left of the barn, which held 32 stalls and an indoor riding area, was a 3-foot high cinder block wall.
â€œWhen a building burns, you usually expect to see at least a charred structure standing,â€ said Cindy Kincaid with the Lincoln County Horsemanâ€™s Association. â€œThere was not one piece of wood left erect in that building.â€
Now, Rose Hill Farms, located in Dallas, is trying to rebuild with the support of Gaston and Lincoln countiesâ€™ horse community.
â€œHorse people, theyâ€™re real competitive. They fight constantly at shows amongst each other,â€ said Bell. â€œBut when something happens, the real people come out, and they support each other.â€
That support has been shown in many ways â€” manual labor, monetary donations and donations of food and supplies.
Proceeds from two previous Rose Hill Fuzzy Fun Shows have been donated to the farm. Money raised at Saturdayâ€™s show will also be donated.
When first hearing of the fire, Bell, who organizes the Fuzzy Fun Shows, wasnâ€™t sure whether she had the heart to put on another show.
â€œIt took the heart out of me,â€ she said.
She had raised the 20-year-old Cajun Sun since he was a baby. She had only recently sold him to Rose Hill Farms, where was a breeding horse and worked with children.
â€œHe was happy as a lark,â€ she said. â€œHe had a job again.â€
Of the 17 horses lost during the fire, eight belonged to Rose Hill Farms and the remaining nine belonged to area horsemen, many of them children.
All those involved found the fire devastating. Owners came to Rose Hill Farms the day after the fire, trying to find items belonging to their horses.
As an act of closure, the names of all 17 horses will be read at Saturdayâ€™s event.
The audience will be filled with people who understand the special bond between a person and their horse.
â€œHorses have a tremendous capacity to love unconditionally,â€ said Kincaid. â€œAnd they will give their heart for you. They will do anything you ask, and all they want is for you to be happy with what theyâ€™re doing. Itâ€™s such an unconditional friendship and (has a) trust and understanding that sometimes you canâ€™t get with people.â€
Want to go? The Fuzzy Fun Show benefiting Rose Hill Farms will be held Saturday at Ponderosa Showgrounds, located off of Startown Road in Lincolnton. The event will begin at 11 a.m. and is expected to end between 4 and 5 p.m. For more information call Cindy Kincaid at (704) 747-7755.
by Sarah Grano