While all 19 horses escaped a fire that destroyed Perkins Farm riding stable last winter in Gorham, the rebuilding effort has claimed a prize horse.

Tricia and Patrick Perkins are rebuilding the combined stable and riding arena that was lost in an early-morning blaze on Jan. 3. They hope the new structure would be completed by December.

The replacement will cost at least $400,000, she said, but they were only insured for $95,000, the cost of building the original in 1994. The riding center was adjacent to their home on County Road.

And so Otho – officially named Otho Interagro – a horse of the Lusitano breed from Portugal, who had been trained in dressage – a specialty event at horse shows – was sold to help pay for the rebuilding.

“I had to sell him because I needed money for the wood” to rebuild the stable, said Tricia Perkins.

Although the cost of insurance premiums had risen over the years, they hadn’t updated coverage. The farm didn’t store hay in the combined stable-riding arena and didn’t allow smoking.

“We never envisioned a fire,” she said.

Tricia was home alone when the fire, apparently of electrical origin, erupted at 8:30 a.m. She ran into the blaze to rescue two horses trapped by flames. Other horses were in outside paddocks.

Besides the financial drain of losing the building, the fire took its toll emotionally. She didn’t sleep for two months after the fire.

“I’d sleep for five minutes and get up to see if there was a fire,” she said.

After selling Otho to rebuild, she said her next-best horse, Ranger Danger, injured a hoof after stepping on a rock that surfaced when debris from the fire was bulldozed. She’s been soaking the horse’s injured hoof twice a day.

“He’s still quite lame,” she said, “but the abscess has popped.”

The formerly all-wooden structure is being replaced with one with steel roof trusses covered with a high-tech, translucent fabric. It went up in May, despite a month of rains. The replacement also has seven stalls, but it’s not an equine motel. The farm’s 20 horses are housed at night in run-in sheds in their paddocks.

Although the structure is still not finished, Tricia has been giving riding lessons under the new roof. And she was able to hold the farm’s summer camp for kids this year.

Boards cover the sides and ends of the new building. Her husband is painting it yellow with blue trim. The 100-by-126-foot structure is about the same size as the original. Two students were exercising horses in the arena Monday afternoon.

“I like how it’s big and open, very light,” said Kelsey Childs, a sophomore at Westbrook High School, who was riding her mare, Smash.

Lexi Pauls, a Falmouth Middle School student, was astride Braveheart in the arena Monday. Her mom, Beth Pauls, a friend of Tricia Perkins, said her daughter was one of the students who lost riding gear in the fire. The fire destroyed a tack trunk containing horse grooming supplies that Lexi Pauls bought herself.

Many students riding at Perkins Farm kept their boots, saddles and bridles there, but the gear wasn’t covered by insurance.

“Some kids lost their Christmas presents,” said Beth Pauls.

But hope isn’t lost at Perkins Farm. Some day, Tricia Perkins hopes to be able to buy back Otho, who is now receiving advanced training in Connecticut. A slogan, “Rise above the Ashes,” printed on the back of Perkins Farm T-shirts, illustrates optimism.

Beth Pauls bought Otho so the horse could remain stabled at Perkins Farm. And she would willingly resell the horse to Perkins.

“He was her dream horse,” Pauls said.

Cutline (Stable 1) Cutline (Stable 8) Cutline (Stable 5) Cutline (Stable 12) Cutline (Stable 11 or 13) ? Lexi Pauls, a Falmouth Middle School student, rides in the arena that replaces one lost in a January fire at Perkins Farm in Gorham. Cutline (Stable 15) ? Tricia Perkins of Gorham rises above the ashes, as a new stable-riding arena replaces one destroyed by a fire in January. Cutline (Stable 15) ? Tricia Perkins of Gorham rises above the ashes, as a new stable-riding arena replaces one destroyed by a fire in January. Cutline (stable 15) – Perkins Farm in Gorham rising above the ashes after fire destroyed a stable-riding arena in January,


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