Four horses were killed in a barn fire in rural Boulder County, Colorado, on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. Authorities are investigating the possibility it was arson. -- Photo courtesy of Janiejill Tointon.

Four Horses Killed in Colorado Barn Fire

A blaze that killed four horses in Colorado, including three sons of reined cow horse stallion Shining Lil Nic, may have been intentionally set.

Officials say the blaze was discovered at 5:45 a.m., Oct. 1, in a barn near 95th Street and Hills View Drive in rural Boulder County, Colorado. That’s about 30 miles north of Denver.

Janiejill Tointon, owner of Shining Lil Nic (Smart Shiner x Dig A Lil Nic x Diggers Rest), said the fire was at a barn owned by her longtime friend, Ronda Hackbart Reyes, and Ronda’s husband, David Reyes. The family had bought all four horses from Tointon and her husband, Bill, and had taken lessons from Tointon’s daughter, Monique Potts.

“I’d never thought I’d have to see a barn burn down with horses I loved in it,” said Tointon, who lives nearby and went to the fire scene.

Sheriff’s deputies said the barn was filled with flames when first responders arrived. The agency said an arson investigation is underway, although deputies have not said why they believe the blaze may have been intentionally set.

“Firefighters with Mountain View Fire Protection District worked to extinguish the flames, which took several hours,” sheriff’s deputies said in a statement. “There were four horses inside the barn that could not be rescued because of the intense heat.”

Ronda Hackbart Reyes and her husband, David Reyes, are pictured with their four horses. The horses died when the Colorado couple’s barn burned down on Oct. 1, 2017, and authorities are investigating the blaze as a possible act of arson. • Photo by Marilyn Stevens Photography

Two of the Shining Lil Nic sons that died – Lil Joe Namath and Shining Lil Murph – were money-winners, but their new and most important mission in life was to be dependable mounts for the Reyes family, Tointon said.

“[The family] did want to show, but they just weren’t there yet,” she said. “These horses were just so good because they were just letting them learn on them. That was what was so special about them.”

Lil Joe Namath had earned $5,300 in reined cow horse competitions with Bill and trainer Justin Lawrence. Shining Lil Murph, who earned about $150, was named after his breeder, legendary horseman Don Murphy, of Marietta, Oklahoma.

The other two horses that died included Shinee Tinkertoy (by Shining Lil Nic) and a fourth horse the Tointons found for the Reyes family.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.