An horse riding center on the border of the Towns of Pendleton and Lockport, which was started more than 50 years ago on Robinson Road, suffered devastating fire damage before dawn Monday.

Chris White, who owns the SMC Equestrian Center with his wife Shannon, estimated the damage at $100,000. Because some of the training center was under construction, there was no insurance.

None of the 32 horses were injured in the blaze that began about 2:30 a.m.

“My wife heard the noise,” Chris said. “The whole yard was glowing. Thank God it was indoor riding arena, most horses were in the barn for evening. We caught the four or five that were loose. Horses were screaming and hollering. We were more concerned about getting the horses to other barns”

The stable, which was started by Shannon’s family in 1956, has a variety of breeds, including thoroughbreds and quarter horses. About half the horses are owned by the Whites and a half are boarded by different owners at the SMC.

“The horses woke me up,” Shannon said. “The whole house was an orange haze. We lost 40 percent of business.”

“It’s pretty devastating,” said Chris after surveying the property Monday afternoon. SMC lost  the building and all improvements, Along with the training/riding center, the fire destroyed the swimming pool, the tent, tools, lawn mower, halters and a mounting block and new fence.

Volunteers from the South Lockport and Wendelville Fire companies responded. Niagara County Sheriff Patrol units and state police found the barn fully involved. According to the sheriff’s report, deputies could see the smoke and embers from the blaze from a mile away.

A passerby made the first 911 call, followed immediately by a call from the Whites. The fire is being investigated by Niagara County Origin and Cause. Investigators, with dogs, were digging around the ashes Monday.

SMC was formed in 2011 and named after Shannon, Mel and Chris. Shannon’s parents started the hobby horse stable. Shannon inherited the farm and married Chris. Shannon cared for horses as a hobby. Chris worked horses for a living in Clarence. Husband and wife are both riders.

Members of the SMC are scheduled to compete in a major horse show Saturday in Clarence. “The kids don’t have any place to practice, All of our jumps are indoor,” said Chris who does not know if he will compete Saturday. 

Equestrian Center members range from 3-years to 60 years of age and the little kids can’t ride outside yet.

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