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Boat-riding strangers rescue horses out of flooded B.C. farm

Three strangers corralled a group of stranded horses by boat after a flood in Lower Nicola.

A group of horses have been rescued from a flooded farm in B.C. thanks to the generosity of strangers.

Tyson Vandean borrowed his neighbour's boat in Logan Lake and drove to Lower Nicola after hearing about the horses being stranded on Monday. 

"My wife put out a Facebook post saying, 'Is there anyone out there that has a boat and a motor and can lend it to us?'” he says. “We got dozens of replies.” 

They drove 30 minutes to Lower Nicola; when they arrived, they found a group of people on horseback and tractors trying to get to the horses. 

"I'm not much of a horse wrangler, that’s the funny part. This is my first time going out there,” says Vandean.

Vandean met two other men, Phil Dumont and Henry Chillihitzia. Both had experience wrangling horses but damaged the boat they were using. 

"Henry was ready to swim out and get the horses... he was driven to get them. We were like, 'We are going to get the horses,'" says Vandean.

Together, the three strangers got in the boat and headed for the horses.

"As we got out there, the horses were stranded on a high spot, they were up to their chest in water. They didn’t want to come back to us.”

Dodging debris and battling the fast-moving water, the men kept trying to reach the animals.

"It was raining... the current was crazy, trying to get the boat to manoeuvre through the currents. At some points, it wouldn't even keep up and we were going toward the horses and trying to steer away,” recalls Vandean. "It was like white-water rapids in a farmer’s field.”

Chillihitzia, who knew the landscape, guided Vandean through the field.

"We got in behind them [the horses] and we were able to push them through the fields and toward the gates.”

The animals were able to safely get out of the water and all were accounted for, including a calf. 

"It was a new experience for me, I’ve never driven a boat in a farmer's field,” says Vandean, adding it was a group effort and a "bonding experience."

The Logan Lake resident says many people in Lower Nicola opened their doors to his community in the summer months, when a wildfire forced an evacuation. 

"I know that anyone of them would have pushed me out of the way and driven that boat to do the same thing,” he says.