ONTARIO, Oregon — On September 13, a fire broke out in a barn on the Gardner family ranch, it destroyed their barn and the family was not able to save the horses inside the barn.
"All we cared about was saving the horses, we tried everything to get in the barn, but we couldn’t get in," sobbed Sherry Gardner.
The fire killed four horses, including Markus Des Jardins, a french stallion the family paid a years worth of wages to buy, the family called him Pi he was in the barn with a mare and their son, a pony was also killed, the family and their 13 kids were devastated as the five-year-old stallion had a bright future after just finishing his first Grand Prix.
"He loved us and we loved him," said Gardner. "It is just so horrible to think we put him in a prison that he couldn’t get out of and we couldn’t save him."
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The Gardner family runs Heartland Jumpers and we saw them perform at the Idaho Horse Expo, this youth riding club qualified for the Las Vegas National Horse Show in November, but they likely will not be able to compete because they also lost most of their equipment.
20 saddles, 50 tons of hay, a tractor, two horse trailers, trophies and a side-by-side mule were all destroyed in the fire,
"We are pretty devastated, we are in a bad way and we need some help," said Gardner.
Gardner told us insurance will pay $175,000, but she says rebuilding the barn will easily cost more than a million dollars, her children continue to train their horses, but right now they have to ride bareback because they don't have any tack.
A friend of the family started a Go Fund Me Page and the Gardner's appreciate the efforts the community has shown them in the wake of this terrible tragedy.
"We are grateful for the love of the community and grateful for friends we didn’t even know we had," said Gardner.
It will be a tough road ahead for Heartland Jumpers who used the indoor arena in the 16,000 square foot barn to work with their horses during the winter, the heat of the summer and other inclement weather.
As they attempt to pick up the pieces you have to feel bad for the family and especially the children who had to endure such a difficult loss, they really cared about those four horses who died in the fire.
"It was horrible and all of our kids were sitting out there just sobbing," cried Gardner. "They were saying the horses, the horses and it was awful."
The Ontario Fire chief told the family he believes the fire started at an electrical panel, Sherry told us the barn wasn't very old, they haven't had any issues with the wiring and this came as a surprise to the family.