Dave and Sherry of Sun Hills Riding Centre in Osoyoos, BC are my brother and sister-in-law. Over the last 5+ years they have guided hundreds of families safely through the beautiful South Okanagan landscape, and taught many people, children and adults, horsemanship and riding skills, sharing their affection for the big beasts. Sherry is fully trained and in the process of becoming certified to provide Equine-Assisted Learning and Wellness services to those who don't want to ride but want to experience the benefits of being around horses. She has been providing these services pro-bono.
On July 29th 2023 at around 10pm, the horses of Sun Hills Riding Centre were evacuated from their home in Osoyoos, BC with almost no notice due to the rapidly spreading Eagle Bluff Wildfire. The unique desert area of Osoyoos is mainly brush, making the fire fast-moving and intense. As the flames engulfed the hillsides surrounding the stables, the horses were quickly loaded onto horse trailers with the help of volunteers from ALERT and moved to safety 20 kms away. Thankfully no persons or animals were injured during the evacuation. Due to the severity of the situation, unable to pack much else, Sherry followed Dave and the horses in their car with with their 2 senior cats, senior Mexican rescue dog and 7 month old pup.
The evacuation order was lifted a couple of days later and Sherry and Dave were permitted home along with all the animals on the afternoon of Monday July 31st.
Their trails are mostly intact with some burned sections. Some of the trails are not safe to be taken as it would hazardous to the health of the horses and guests. The health and safety of their guests & horses are Dave and Sherry's top priority.
And, now the smoke...
And, also the Provincial State of Emergency (SoE) due to numerous out of control wildfires in the BC interior. The Provincial SoE has enacted a travel ban to their region. Sun Hills Riding Centre has not been open due to the risks associated with exposure to poor air quality and the travel ban. This is the high season for Sun Hills Riding Centre. They depend on the income from trail rides to provide for the horses for the entire year. The income they receive in July and August are paramount to their ability to continue.
Dave and Sherry pour their hearts into these 9 horses, most of which are rescued from neglect, abuse, and/or the meat industry. Many of them required extensive rehab when they aquired them due to the prior neglect they endured. There is no assistance available to Dave and Sherry as the property they rent does not have farm status and did not sustain any damage. Yet the horses continue to require feeds, medications and supplements and shelter.
Currently, funds are needed to meet these on-going requirements. They are really hoping to be able to operate again once the Provincial State of Emergency is lifted. It is in effect until September 4th, 2023. Hopefully, it will not be extended. The current goal is set to offset loss of income for August. I will post updates and pictures as we go along. You can read more about them and the horses at www.sunhillsriding.ca
Sincerely, Jayne M.