‘Boom, they were gone’: Alberta coaches mourn the loss of two horses struck by lightning
SUNDRE, Alberta. – A large mound of dirt atop a green pasture in central Alberta is a reminder that tragedy can strike like lightning.
Two valuable horses trained by Ian Tipton and his partner Lisa Blanchart died on July 2 when a severe storm hit western Sundre. High winds and 100 millimeters of rain fell within an hour, as multiple lightning strikes hit the house and nearby pastures.
When it was over, several horses darted into the pasture. Two of the 14 had left.
âWe buried them near where they fell,â Tipton said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
“These two were pretty special and now they have a resting place overlooking everything.”
There are numerous hoof prints in the earth of the grave.
A number of the horses in the herd have made the region their new resting place. The tsar, an old gray Andalusian, stood over his two fallen comrades – Cipato and Jacinto – for 24 hours after their deaths, Tipton said, and never walks away.
This is something Tipton, who has worked with horses for 50 years, has never seen before.
âThese horses never left them, not for a minute. The little black one was trying to wake them up and this gray horse was standing over them and wouldn’t leave them until they were in the ground, âhe said.
“Every time I look up here, it never changesâ¦ from morning to night.” They come back.”
Blanchart said the deceased horses were like family.
âWe were just absolutely devastated, just sick both from the sense of personal loss – and professionally,â she said.
Tipton Horsemanship is a classical horse riding training center. The staff train horses, some of Grand Prix quality, and have clients from all over the world who wish to ride them.
Cipato, an eight-year-old Frisian quarter horse cross, was probably worth as much as US $ 70,000, Tipton said, while Jacinto, a Portuguese-bred Lusitanian, was worth around US $ 30,000. Both were insured.
âIt certainly doesn’t replace the value they are to us as members of the family,â Tipton said.
David Phillips, senior climatologist at Environment and Climate Change Canada, said July is the deadliest month for lightning.
Canada records more than two million hits per year, or about one every three seconds. Ontario most affected, followed by Alberta and Saskatchewan.
âThe average temperature of a lightning bolt is around 30,000 degrees Celsius and the voltage is typically around 150 times more powerful than the electric chair,â Phillips said.
The most common times for storms to strike are 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Very few lightning strikes are a direct hit. Phillips said most occur when lightning descends on an object and then jumps, or when a current hits the ground and then travels along the ground “and knocks you down.”
Tipton said he was reassured to know his two horses were probably dead quickly.
âThere was no suffering,â Tipton said. âThese two souls were perfectly happy, then boom, they were gone. ”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 9, 2021.