Friends in show horse community step up for trainer after fire - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Friends in show horse community step up for trainer after fire

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Big Blue Eyes is just one of the horses lost in an early morning barn fire Friday. Big Blue Eyes is just one of the horses lost in an early morning barn fire Friday.
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CLEVELAND, MO (KCTV) -

A well-known horse breeder and trainer lost eight show horses overnight in a fire whose origin remains a mystery.

No foul play is suspected in the barn fire at Knaus Show Horses, but for Peggy Knaus, the loss is both financial and emotional.

"I was there when they were born and watched their careers develop," she said. "So it's like having children."

The horses ranged in age from 1 to 8 years old. Typically horses live to age 30, so all were considered young. Most belonged to clients, but Knaus had a close relationship to each of them, whom she had raised from birth.

"In order to compete at the level we do you have to really know them as they have to really want to work for you," she explained. "So my goal whenever they come in for training is to get them to love me, which is so easy because horses are so ready to love."

Seven of the eight had been sired by Knaus' champion Stallion, named All Time Fancy and nicknamed Nike. Nike is nationally known. He is No. 1 on the leading sires list for the paint breed and has sired 100 champion paints. He has 2,000 friends on Facebook.

Knaus got word of the fire from her father, who woke to see the flames at 4 a.m. on Friday. She says the structure was all metal, so the flames would not have become visible until the roof had collapsed.

"Not the horses," she said of her first thought when she got the news, remembering that moment tearfully.

The wreckage sits just off a gravel road. The metal is twisted and gnarled, making the scene look more like the aftermath of a tornado than a fire. The horses still lie in the back, motionless, where Knaus had just added six new stables to the barn where she relocated in July from a smaller property in North Kansas City. She rents the property and had not gotten around to getting renter's insurance for all the equipment inside.

"This is my livelihood," she said. "All of our equipment is gone. Our truck is gone."

Knaus waffled between tearful and tough as she talked about the loss.

"It's personal," she said, trying to explain the dual impact. "It's not business."

Knaus, who has been breeding and showing horses for almost 30 years, says she doesn't believe in ghosts and loves the property, so she won't let the loss push her away.

"You wake up and breathe tomorrow," she said when asked what comes next. "I mean this is what I will always do. You don't do something that requires this much work unless you love it."

A friend in the show horse community has set up a PayPal account for anyone who wants to help. The website is www.fundrazr.com. People should then search for "Peggy Knaus" once they are on it.

Knaus said she would gratefully accept any tack or other equipment anyone wishes to contribute.

Knaus can be reached via email at knausshowhorses@gmail.com or through her website, knausshowhorses.com.

Click here and click here for some video of some of the horses lost in the fire in previous competitions.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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