A therapeutic horse riding business planned for launch this month will now have to be put on hold following a dramatic evacuation of livestock from Paradise Gardens over the weekend.
Jersuha Domes, owner of Northern Equine Connection, said she had to rescue her four horses from their corralled space at the lowest point in the valley as water poured in over the river bank.
Domes has been keeping her horses at Jim Forsyth’s property at the farthest lot at the end of the road with plans to launch the business in May. They include JC the blonde Palomino, Dobby the black and white miniature, Legend with the white strip down the nose, and Solo with the small white spot on her forehead.
“It all started on Friday night when we got flooded down there and we had to bring the horses into town and back to our property,” Domes explained.
“By Saturday morning, the water cleared and we brought the four horses back down again.”
Although it seemed at that point that conditions were favourable enough, unfortunately the flooding trouble had only just begun.
Domes said that by Sunday afternoon, as Paradise Gardens was being evacuated, she got the call to immediately attend to the horses because water was coming up quickly and neighbours were leaving the area.
“We rushed out there and didn’t even get a chance to grab a horse trailer,” she said. “We started driving down the main road and water was coming up around the tops of our main tires and then to the hood.
“Even though the bank is quite high, water was coming up in the middle of Paradise Road and it was just absolutely crazy.”
At a certain point, the truck Domes was in had to stop and she attended the corralled horses, who had river water up to the tops of their legs.
“I ended up getting to them and luckily broke the panel of the fence before managing to lead them through the fence and called for the horses to come,” she said. “We didn’t have time for halters or ropes and they followed.
“We had to cut through trees and at that point met the truck again farther up the road.”
The walk was treacherous as well as a strong current continued coming in from the river which took Domes and the pony out and into deeper water at one point.
“We were lucky to have a guy come in to assist by quad (Alex McMeekin) and grabbed the horses and a member of the Coast Guard was also present to help grab the pony,” she said.
“We then had the truck drive up and I hopped on the tailgate and Alex passed me the horse he was holding.
“Luckily the two horses I let free started following the one I was leading from the back of the truck.”
Domes said the horses were in a panic state but were cooperative under the stress.
“If we had arrived in Paradise five minutes later, we would have never gotten the horses out of there,” she said. “The water was coming up so fast. And the current was strong.”
The horses are now being kept warm and sheltered in the garage at Domes’ home near Woodland Drive.
“It is definitely not a convenient situation but it is what it is and we have been able to get them warmed up,” she said, noting that hypothermia was a major concern. “We are lucky to have very well mannered horses.”
Domes said that the situation puts her business on hold and the future is uncertain as this summer will require quite a bit of cleanup in Paradise Gardens.