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Horses at Maple Ridge riding school ride out heat wave thanks to extra love and care

Had to be hosed down with cold water four times a day
Leah Paris and Lyzz Harmer had to hose down each one of the 30 horses in their care during the heat wave last weekend. (Paris Equestrian/Special to The News)

Staff at a Maple Ridge horse riding school went above and beyond trying to help their horses through the heat wave that hit the province last weekend and early into the week.

While temperatures reached a record highs across Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, staff at Paris Equestrian were busy trying to keep their horses alive.

There are around 30 horses at Paris Equestrian – about 60 per cent belong to the school and the other 40 per cent people who board their horses in their stables.

Business owner and head coach Leah Paris, along with assistant trainer, Lyzz Harmer, and the rest of the staff spent much of their time hosing off the horses with cold water to prevent them from overheating.

Four times a day teams of two would go out to the barn and hose down each horse, spending hours trying to cool them off.

“Overheating in horses, as it is with any animal, is especially dangerous because they can have lots of health problems,” explained Harmer.

Colic being one of the most serious.

“Colic is something that every horse owner dreads. Basically it’s a type of stomach ache that horses can get that can be fatal,” Harmer noted.

The condition can be caused by many things, but one of the main causes is dehydration.

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On Monday the temperature across Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows hit a record 41.4 Celsius, shattering the previous record set in 2009 of 37.6 C.

Old records were broken three times during the heat wave with a high of 40 C on Sunday and 37.8 C on Saturday.

So in addition to hosing off the horses, the team gave them food with extra water in it and also added electrolytes and loose salt content to their feed.

They also had to keep the horses out of the sun, which meant getting up early in the morning to let them out for a run to beat the heat of the afternoon.

A horse in distress will start panting. Symptoms of colic are excessive sweating, either no bowel movements or the opposite, diarrhea, the horse can collapse, or they will roll on the ground in an attempt to relieve the stomach ache.

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“And that’s very dangerous because they can twist their gut and that’s typically fatal – or if not fatal a very expensive vet bill,” said Harmer.

The school had to cancel all of their riding lessons over the weekend, for the safety of the riders, as well as the horses.

However, they made it through the heat wave without any issues.

“We were pretty lucky,” said Harmer.

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Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

Colleen Flanagan is an award-winning multimedia journalist with more than 15 years experience in the industry.
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