Sunday was a day of mourning for many in Connecticut's equestrian community. A group gathered at Hop Meadow Country Club to celebrate the two dozen horses that were lost in a fire at Folly Farm in Simsbury last month.
"He was tough on the outside, soft on the inside," said Natalie Nordyke of West Hartford about the horse she became close with.
At the center of the memorial service were photographs of 24 horses lost in the fire on December 28.
"He was a beautiful thoroughbred. It was a shame to lose him," said Catherine Carter in West Hartford, who was remembering a horse named Buddy. Over the years, Carter said, her daughter developed a special bond with the horse.
"He would be the one horse to find me at a show, put his head over my shoulder," said Carter.
Buddy was among the two dozen horses that died after a fire. Investigators believe the flames were an accident, sparked by an electrical problem.
"It's obviously been difficult but having the other nineteen horses on property has certainly been helpful in terms of there's always work to do," said Alison Patricelli, General Manager of Folly Farm.
"I'm touched by how many people cared. It just speaks to how many lives these horses touched," said Nordyke. "Everybody that met them loved them," she said.
Managers at Folly Farm said they are raising money to help pay some of the staff and to purchase new horses in the future.
Folly Farm is a 175-acre, family-owned farm about 10 miles northwest of Hartford that offers horse riding and competition lessons, boarding and polo instruction.