Hobart

NW Indiana Therapeutic Equestrian Center Destroyed After Snowy Roof Collapse

Staff are calling the nearly century-old barn a total loss after heavy snow

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Heavy snow caused a devastating roof collapse at a therapeutic horseback riding facility in Hobart, Indiana, overnight Tuesday, and as a result, the non-profit's stable was destroyed.

Then, Sunday night, another portion of the barn's roof also gave way after rain and sleet fell on to an already snow-covered structure.

Eight horses were inside at the time of the collapse at Exceptional Equestrians Unlimited. Two of the horses suffered minor injuries. All eight have been temporarily relocated to other facilities.

No people were inside at the time.

Lisa Way, equine manager and instructor, was the first to find the damage Wednesday morning.

"It was so traumatic," she said. "I could not believe this was really happening."

Two horses were pinned in their stalls by debris. Way and other volunteers were able to bring one to safety. Firefighters had to saw a hole through the other's enclosure. All of the horses were frightened by the loud noises and cold, but not seriously physically injured.

"[I'm] a little stressed about how we are going to try to do lessons this year or when we would even be able to start," Way told NBC 5. "I don’t know how long this is going to take to rebuild."

The barn is almost 100 years old, and president Ken Mertens says insurance will only cover part of the required rebuild.

"It’s about one third of what we need to rebuild the whole barn," Mertens said.

EEU operates as a charitable non-profit organization, governed by a volunteer board of directors.

"We depend on donations," Mertens said. "We have no federal, city or state funding. It’s all private donations helping us. We do the best we can."

The pandemic already caused a strain on services. In 2020, EEU offered some private and semi-private classes. The organization was preparing to reopen in April, but will now be closed for the foreseeable future.

"It has been very difficult," Mertens said. "Many of our volunteers chose not to come back through the pandemic."

"It's been a very tough year," said Pam Mellon, the treasurer for EEU. "We're going to get through it though, somehow."

The center is collecting donations through several online fundraisers on its Facebook page. They hope to bring back horses and offer some classes by the fall.

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