Horse Owner Natural Disaster Preparedness

Horse Owner Natural Disaster Preparedness

With these tips for proper preparation, you can help protect your horse from natural disasters.

Horse Owner Natural Disaster Preparedness - Are You Ready?
Each type of natural disaster requires a multistep approach for horse owners to prepare for natural disasters. (Credit: Journal)

Courtesy of American Quarter Horse Association

Depending on where you live, several natural disasters could be a potential threat to your horse. Tornadoes, wildfires, flooding and hurricanes may seem like hopeless situations, but taking precautions ahead of time can help protect your horse from natural disasters.

Wildfire Protection for Horses
  • Have a good evacuation plan. Sit down with family long before any sign of trouble and prepare and equine emergency evacuation plan.
  • Prepare a “go bag.” Include a copy of papers, medication, an extra halter and lead rope, basic grooming supplies, a picture of you and your horse together, and basic first-aid supplies.
  • Plan more than one route out of your property. Unless you’re at the end of a dead-end street, plan how you will get out if main exits are closed.
  • Establish evacuation locations. Getting out is only half the feat. It’s also important to have a few safe locations to escape to where you can feed, water and assess your horse’s condition.
  • Practice trailer loading well in advance. Having a horse that will load right up when time is limited could make the difference between evacuating … and not. Also, fuel up the truck and trailer and make sure it’s in working order.
  • Practice fire prevention. Clear weeds and vegetation from the fence line and up to 100 feet away from structures and consider a sprinkler system for the horse barn.
Hurricane Protection for Horses
  • Heed the advance warnings. No one wants to be stuck on the road with a truck, trailer, and horses in-tow with hurricane-force winds.
  • Prepare to travel across state lines. Make sure vaccinations, Coggins and health certificates are up to date. All horses should receive West Nile and Eastern and Western encephalitis vaccinations at the beginning of hurricane season, due to increased mosquito populations.
  • Arrange a week’s worth of food and water, if possible. Consider that there may not be access to water or that you’ll be able to purchase feed for a while.
  • Identify horses with waterproof IDs, possibly braided into their tails or sealed in a Ziploc bag duct-taped to a leather halter.
Tornado Protection for Horses
  • Outside may be the best option. The fast and unpredictable nature of tornadoes makes it difficult to devise a sure-fire plan, but horses left outside will instinctively find natural cover and do what they can to survive. A horse left inside the barn may be more protected from flying debris, but a large storm can wipe out virtually any structure.
  • If there’s time, evacuate. But again, beware of being caught in high winds with a horse trailer.