A teamster whose horse died last weekend after it was scared by a passing truck wants drivers to slow down and show courtesy to others on the road.
Brad Cameron was taking his son and daughter for a morning ride with his wagon team of two horses, Max and Duke, in McLure, north of Kamloops, when a pickup truck came up and tried to pass them on the narrow gravel road.
“I could hear a vehicle coming up behind us and he’s slowed to our speed, which is probably about six km an hour,” said Cameron. He started looking for a safe place to pull over.
The truck began to pass within inches of their wagon, and a dog in the box of the truck began barking at the horses.
Cameron and his daughter gestured to the driver to back off while they tried to pull over in a neighbour’s upcoming driveway, but the truck kept going.
Max and Duke were used to being around traffic and had blinders on. They weigh about 1,800 and 1,600 pounds respectively and mostly stick to slow and steady work.
“All of a sudden there’s a dog in Max’s face, yipping, biting and barking, so the horses blow up, both of them, they’re a team. One reacts, the other is reacting,” Cameron said.
He said the police said the truck driver later told them he realized his dog was causing the horses to panic, so he chose to speed up to get past them.
The truck sprayed the horses and passengers with gravel, and with the resulting roar of the engine, the horses exploded into a flat-out run.
Cameron said all he could do was try to steer them straight until they calmed down.
“I’ve never been so fast on a horse in my life,” he said.
“I got them stopped on the side of the road and then Max collapsed and died. It’s very sad. I’m trying not to be able to show it, but it’s still very sad to me.”
Cameron’s neighbour saw the entire event unfold and, after making sure the Cameron family was safe, chased after the pickup truck.
The neighbour managed to catch up with him, took his licence plate number, and suggested he go back and do the right thing. The driver refused, but said he’d go talk to the RCMP.
“When I spoke to the RCMP, they were going to charge him with passing in an unsafe manner, and when my wife talked to the police, they told her he was going to get some kind of reckless endangerment charge,” said Cameron.
“The other day, I phoned to get the police report in case I wanted to pursue legal action, and they said they didn’t charge him with anything. I asked why, and they said it was a rural gravel road, there are no lines to say he should or shouldn’t have passed.”
The family is heartbroken over the loss of Max, who they said had another 15 years of life left in him, but the impatience and lack of etiquette really bother them.
Cameron acknowledge he doesn’t think the driver was acting out of malice, but motorists should realize they need to share the road and take extra care around animals because their behaviour is much less predictable.
“Whether it’s pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, saddle horses, or a team of horses — these are shared roads, and showing a little respect to your fellow human being and a little courtesy (is a must).”