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Carriage horse recovering, city considering ordinance changes

Amid complaints, officials investigate Saturday’s sudden collapse of 13-year-old carriage horse Jerry.

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"Jerry was being forced to pull a carriage in sweltering heat (the high was 98 today)," Pemmitt’s petition reads. "He had ropes tied around his legs so that he could be dragged into a trailer, and then at the stable, he was lifted into a barn — out of sight — with a fork lift. Awful, sad, and unnecessary. It’s time for Salt Lake City to do away with this cruel industry."

Jerry’s owners have said they had no indication he had colic before he headed out for work and that they always carry water on the carriage for the horses.

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South Mountain Equine veterinarian Lyle Barbour, who is not treating Jerry, said colic usually strikes suddenly in horses.

"[They’re usually] normal one minute and the next, down and thrashing," he said.

He said most of time, nothing can be done to prevent colic, which is the No. 1 cause of death in horses.

He said horses have a higher propensity to colic in the heat because of dehydration and if they have a cardiovascular system that might not be up to par, but there’s no way to tell for sure if that was a contributing factor unless a necropsy — an autopsy for animals— is performed.

He pointed out that some horses do long endurance rides in high heat and never experience similar problems.

"Just to make the generalization that heat causes more colic, I think that’s unfair," he said. "Just because it was hot doesn’t mean temperature caused it. Just because the animal was unable to rise doesn’t mean he was fatigued."

He said a lot of the time there’s no rhyme or reason to why a horse suffers from colic. He said making sure a horse isn’t being neglected and has access to water are two ways to help prevent colic.

— Michael McFall contributed to this story

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