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Barn Fire Kills Seven Horses on Hipp Farm


(Editor’s note: The following is reprinted from the Lexington Herald-Leader. A tribute to CH Chat will be published at a later date.)

By Brandon Ortiz


When you're in the business of raising and selling horses, you try not to get too attached to the horses you're going to sell.

But CH Chat, a chestnut Saddlebred with a white star on his face, "was a part of the family" at Hipp Farm at 1033 Ironworks Pike, said Calhoun Clifton, the 23-year-old daughter of the farm's owner.

Early yesterday morning, CH Chat and six other horses, including one that was in foal, died in a barn fire. The horses were worth more than $1 million, Clifton said, but CH Chat and Reedann’s Maui Girl, a Saddlebred, "were irreplaceable."

"We never even considered putting a price on them, and that is pretty rare for our family because this is what we do for a living," Clifton said. "... They have just been a part of this family for as long as we have had them. There is no amount of money we would have ever sold them for."

Firefighters responded to the fire at 1:12 a.m., Battalion Chief Steven Sea said. Investigators were trying to determine the cause yesterday.

The blaze destroyed the 12-stall barn, which was still smoldering yesterday afternoon. It killed all of the horses at Hipp Farm, which is a division of Clifton Farm. The fire did not spread to two nearby barns or the house, which is 500 yards away, Clifton said.

Maui Girl was the dam of a world champion (CH My Chanel). She was one of the first Saddlebreds to be sold for more than $1 million, Clifton said.

Clifton's mother and the farm's owner, Beth Hipp Murray, raised Chat 26 years ago, sold him and watched him go on to win multiple Saddlebred world championships. Twelve years ago, Murray bought him back to teach her youngest daughter, Barrett, how to ride.

Chat taught sisters Calhoun, Hayne, 20, and Barrett, 17, "many a lesson," Calhoun Clifton said. "He's taken care of us for as long as he's been around."

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