Only three days after their barn was completely destroyed by fire, taking with it the lives of 25 horses, Bob and Debby LaPorta of Summerwind Farm in Damascus, Md., are in the process of rebuilding their barn and their business.
The barn, which housed 22 horses that belonged to clients and three that belonged to the LaPortas, caught fire on Sunday, Feb. 22 at approximately 6:15 a.m. The deceased horses were mostly Quarter Horses and Paint Horses trained for reining, and ranged in value from a few thousand dollars to more than $100,000. Total damages are estimated at around $500,000.
With help from employees, friends and volunteers, the site where the barn used to stand was cleared of all debris by Wednesday afternoon, and Bob already had a sketch of the floor plan for the new structure.
“We would like to thank everyone in the local community, the horse community and our ‘family’ at the National Reining Horse Association for everything they’ve done,” said Bob. Debbie added: “We would need a billboard to thank everyone for their help and support.”
Temporary stalls are being set up in the indoor arena to house the 12 horses coming back from a competition in Florida, where they were competing with the LaPortas and senior trainer, Dutch Chapman. An additional 13 horses stabled in a second barn on the property were unharmed.
Tax-deductible donations can be made payable to the Reining Horse Sports Foundation, 3000 NW 10th St., Oklahoma City, OK 73107. Mark “Natural Disaster” on the memo line.
For more information on Summerwind Farm, visit the web site For information on reining or the Reining Horse Sports Foundation, contact the National Reining Horse Association, at or call 405/946-7400.