Barbara Rice owned Jake and Hawk

‘Old friends’ struck down in freak lightning strike

Sudden storm kills three horses in east Maple Ridge.

Barbara Rice refers to them as her boys, Jake and Hawk, two good horses who she pampered and coddled and who, in return, helped her through tough times.

But now they’re gone, struck down by a freak, fast summer storm that let loose on the Lower Mainland Thursday, creating chaos in the hour in which it touched down.

Rice boarded her two horses – painted-quarter-horse crosses – at a property on 246th Street near Dewdney Trunk Road.

The pair, along with Tina Ranger’s horse, Doc, a former standardbred race horse adopted from the Greener Pastures Society, died after being struck by a lightning just after 3 p.m.

“Usually, when we have thunder and lightning storms, they head for other shelters. I don’t think they had a chance. They were under there because it was raining. That was it,” Rice said Friday.

She owned Jake and Hawk for about nine years and doted on and cared for them.

“It was they who kept me going through my cancer.”

She is still getting treatment for that, as well as fybromyalgia.

“They helped me. They gave me a reason to get up in the morning.”

Both were gentle creatures. Jake was her son Jesse’s horse. Jake didn’t care how close people got to him and, it seemed, would have jumped into Rice’s lap, if she would have let him. When she hugged the horses, they returned the affection by bending towards her.

“They were spoiled. They were glorified lawn puppies. They had a really good life. “You rehash it back and forth trying to think, ‘could I have done anything differently?’

“There is nothing.

“My horses are what kept me going, and now they’re gone. It’s just a stupid freak accident.”

There was one streak of luck though. Fifteen minutes before the lightning struck, Rice’s friend was in the same spot, photographing the horses.

Local veterinarian Stephanie Jeanneret got to the property soon after the lightning hit and saw the animals.

“They just looked like they dropped dead. There was no sign of any movement. No sign of any struggle.”

It’s the first time she’s seen such an incident, although she’s heard of it previously.

“It happens. It’s super rare.” It’s hard to say what kind of advice to give owners of animals. If a barn is properly built with a ground connection, it will be safe during a thunder storm. But many shelters are flimsy and might not offer much protection.

The storm was caused by a low-pressure system off Oregon’s coast, bringing monsoon-like rain and thunderstorms to parts of southwest B.C.

A man working on the property told Rice it looked like lightning hit the ground near the tree the horses were huddled under. The shock could have travelled through the ground, hitting the animals then the tree.

After the strike, the man waited for the horses to come running. “There are no horses. They were all dead.

“I still can’t believe I’m looking at a picture and thinking, ‘they’re all gone.’ It’s like a real bad joke.”

Maple Ridge fire chief Peter Grootendorst said horses could be more vulnerable to electric shock because their wide stance allows more electricity to travel through their bodies through their four hooves.

Rice doesn’t know what she’ll do now, if she’ll get another horse, although she’s had a lifelong connection with the animals.

But she wants something good to result from the deaths.

People who want to help should just donate to the animal rescue shelters, such as J & M Acres Horse Rescue or Greener Pastures B.C. Standardbred Horse Adoption Society, which adopts out old race horses.

“Save somebody else,” she asks. “There are so many animals that need help.”

Tina Ranger, who lost Doc, says the same thing. Doc used to be named As Noted during his seven-year-career as a harness race horse.

“Doc was my buddy, my steady confident companion who has left this earth in a tragic flash of lightning, and my heart hurts for the loss. He was my big animal friend, I could take anywhere and trust with anyone.”

Ranger had another horse on the property, a mare called Kat, who was in a different spot when the lightning hit and survived the storm. She’s now missing her three stablemates.

In the aftermath of the strike, when the three horses were still there, Jeanneret gave Kat a mild tranquillizer, then let her walk up to her mates, so she could say goodbye.

“It was heart wrenching,” said Rice.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Trauma talk packs the ACT in Maple Ridge

What is Trauma? is the second of three free community conversations

Hall Of Fame induction is a feather in the cap, says proud Walker Sr.

Son will be inducted into hall of fame with 76.6 percent of vote

Langley brewery renames beer as tribute to local Vegas shooting victim

Maple Ridge’s Jordan McIldoon, one of 58 killed in 2017 mass shooting, remembered by Five Roads

Road repairs winding down on Maple Ridge road

New storm sewer connection installed

VIDEO: Rare ‘ice circle’ spotted on Kamloops river

An ice circle or ice pan, has formed in the chilly waters just east of the Yellowhead Bridge

‘Latte-sipping urbanites’ need to realize value of mining in B.C., association head says

Industry generates a total of $3.9 billion in sales of goods and service across the province

B.C. man rescued after getting trapped headfirst in well as water level rose

The rescue involved crews from Oak Bay and Saanich

Investigators in wildfire-torn Australia head to site of B.C. airtanker crash

The B.C. government sends condolences to Port Alberni-owned Coulson Aviation

Mud slide prompts evacuation in Burnaby as rain saturates southern B.C.

About 20 metres of a five to six-metre high wall gave way

RCMP investigating sexual allegation against Lower Mainland police officer

Delta officer suspended while the alleged off-duty incident involving a co-worker is investigated

Former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse in B.C. granted day parole

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s

VIDEO: Person in wheelchair narrowly avoids collision with car in Kelowna

There were no injuries in the scary looking near-accident last week in Rutland

Here’s what Canada is doing to stop the coronavirus from getting in

Health officials are monitoring multiple possible cases in Canada

Most Read