Keeping Your Horse Safe During a Hurricane
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.