Keeping Your Horse Safe During an Emergency
horses during natural disaster

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Keeping Your Horse Safe During a Disaster

hurricane safety for your horse

First Reaction to Crisis

It can be really difficult to keep your horses safe during a hurricane. The best way forward is to have an advance plan where they can easily be moved to a place of safety before the storm hits. This is always assuming that you have enough notice, or a suitable place.

Hurricane Strength

Hurricanes appear to be getting stronger and more frequent each year. They have also generated considerable flooding which is a great risk for horses and their owners.

Planning Ahead

Update your evacuation plans each spring, ahead of the hurricane season which begins in June. If you have an evacuation site from last year, check to make sure it is still available for this year. If you don't have an evacuation site, now is the time to start researching possibilities and making arrangements.

Also, have your horse trailer and towing vehicle checked out in the spring also so there are no surprises when you need them.

First Aid Kit

Have an emergency first aid kit on the ready. This kit can serve both horse and caretaker. You can assemble what you need and keep it in a water proof container or purchase a ready made first aid kit. Be sure to examine the contents each year and replace any expired products.

Avoid Last Minute Moving

Definitely avoid last minute moving which could be far more dangerous than not moving at all. Not only will evacuation routes have heavy traffic, potentially you could get trapped by the approaching storm. Horse trailers and high winds do not mix well and a serious accident could result.

May be Safer at Home

With the proper facilities it could prove safer to leave your horses at home. The only adequate protection, if you intend to keep them inside, is a building sited on high ground, made from hurricane reinforced concrete and with storm shuttered windows and no trees around it. Any other type of building is literally a potential death trap.

If they are going to be left outside, there are many factors to take account of. Firstly, it is important that the pasture has both high and low areas. The higher parts can provide a sanctuary if the lower areas become flooded. Lower areas can offer some protection from high winds. Shallow ponds can sometimes be a source of protection but be wary of snakes or alligators which may also be seeking shelter.

Avoid barb wire pastures

Never leave horses in pasture which is fenced with barbed wire. If they run into it, the resulting injuries can be horrific and in the worst storms it can become a lethal projectile, as can any insecure object, even small buildings which are not firmly restrained. Other problems to watch out for are overhead power lines (for obvious reasons) and trees with shallow roots, especially oak and elm.

Horse Identification

In the event that your horses break free, they should all have identification. Firstly a permanent ID in the form of a hot brand, freeze mark, lip tattoo or microchip. You must also ensure that your contact details are up to date with the relevant company`s database. Secondly, a `fact sheet` tag, which should include the horse`s name and brief description plus your name, address and contact details. This can be placed in a waterproof luggage label and braided into a horse`s mane or tail or attached to a halter.

Try to memorize tattoo or brand numbers and always make sure that any paperwork that identifies your horses is kept safe, preferably with you. Even things as simple as photographs of you with your horses could help to identify them if they go astray or become the victims of an attempted theft.

Online Help for Horse Problems

There are several recognized online help centers available for those frequently beset by severe weather issues. A recently formed group has contacted landowners, including racecourses, which could have suitable permanent structures and who may be willing or able to offer temporary accommodation to horses (and people) in danger.

It would be well worth contacting your local branch to see if they are able to help in an emergency and are included in one of these schemes. You should also try contacting any potential (trustworthy) barns yourself.

There could even be advantages in the long run; it is always good to build relationships with other horse owners and boarding barns.

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