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How to prepare your horses for hurricane situations

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Hurricane preparation for horse owners

With Hurricane Harvey wrecking havoc in Texas and the threat of Hurricane Irma, it’s best to always have a plan to protect your family and your horses from danger. Here are a few hurricane preperation tips for horses to prepare yourself (and your horses) from risk.

In case you missed it, see this Hurricane Harvey Horse Rescue video.

Hurricane Preparation For Horse Owners

We never know when disaster will strike. If you live in a hurricane-prone region, it’s always best to have something planned, just in case. We can’t always prevent everything, but it’s never too late to start planning for an eventuality. While the focus of this post is on hurricane/storm situations, some of these tips apply to all sorts of disaster situations.

Identify your horses.

Hurricane preparation for horse owners must begin with proper identification. This is of utmost importance. Make sure your horses have identification on their bodies. Some options are microchips, tattoos, even a non-toxic spray paint will do the trick in a pinch! Microchips are a preferred method, though, as they’re better to scan. The important part is that your horse can be returned to you in case it gets lost. This includes adding your e-mail, address or phone to the horse’s identification. Make sure that, if your horse has a halter on, that it’s identified and is easy for the horse to break away from, in case it gets tangled. We don’t want halter injuries on panicked horses!

Experts suggest at least two identification tags. If possible, tie the horse’s documentation to its halter, in a waterproof or vacuum-sealed bag. Also keep your horse’s documents at hand, in a safe waterproof place, and have pictures of them to prove you are the owner.

Emergency kits and medication.

Prepare an emergency kit for your horses. This may include medication, first aid kits, bandages, among other things you may consider useful or necessary to keep your horses healthy, in case they suffer an accident. It goes without saying that this includes any special medication your horse may need. In flood and other such situations, the risk of disease and other injuries increases immensely, so it’s also very important to keep your horses vaccinated. Keep these items in a waterproof bag.

Some places may demand your horse has a Coggins test before they are allowed to cross the border. Check out your locale’s demands for health certificates and vaccinations, to not run the risk of not being allowed to cross the border and evacuate your horses properly.

Should you keep your horse in or out during hurricane situations?

Whether you keep your horse in or out during hurricane weather depends on the circumstances. If your land is at flooding risk, it might be best to keep the horses free, so they may escape by themselves if necessary. If not, you may want to keep them in and out of the weather. Use whatever you think is best, and will protect your horses more. Keep in mind, however, the risk of power lines, falling trees and other obstacles that may endanger your horse or your barn. It’s best to disable the circuit breakers before the storm hits, as power surges can cause fires.

Hurricane Sandy Fallen Tree

Falling trees may pose a risk to your horses. Hurricane winds can easily uproot shallow-rooted trees, so be careful!

The same risk occurs with power lines and electric fences so it’s best to keep your horses away from pastures where these may cause problems. If you have a barbed, electric or high tension wire fence, do not keep your horses enclosed in them during a tropical storm. The horses may tangle themselves in the fence as they try to escape. Also consider the risk of shallow-rooted trees and other debris, if you plan to keep them outside during the storms. Wildlife such as snakes and fire ants also pose a risk.

Avoid staying close to the horses during the chaos, as this can endanger not only them but also yourself.

Network.

Knowing your neighbors is important, for all sorts of reasons. One of them is to keep your horses safe. Make sure other people know where your horses are and find people willing to help you during emergencies and evacuations. In a dire situation, you may need someone to keep your horses for you.

Remove all movable objects.

In case you’re staying in during a hurricane, make sure you remove all movable, hanging and “droppable” items from their places, so they won’t fall on your horses. Also make sure that, in case they panic, there are no items they tangle themselves in, such as ropes.

Keep water, food and other supplies.

This is important in case of emergencies where supplies may not be readily available. Water and food stocks for yourself and for your horses are of utmost importance if you plan to stay in your property. Ideally, you should stock at least a week’s provisions for each horse. Store them in the highest, driest place possible, in waterproof containers to avoid contamination. You can use chlorine bleach to purify the water if necessary, to the proportion of two drops per quart of water. Other items such as fuel, nails, and saws are also important, just in case you fix something in a pinch. Flashlights and batteries are also important. Stock your horses with water and food supplies so they can eat, in case they’re indoors and you can’t immediately reach them after the storm.

Have an evacuation plan.

Have a hurricane evacuation route mapped out!

If possible, it’s good to have an evacuation plan. Plan ahead for transportation and where you will stay with your horses, who can help in an emergency and where to stay. It’s always best to do occasional drills. This will help you to see the steps necessary for evacuation and fix any mistakes before a crisis. Time these drills and improve on whatever is necessary to make them as efficient and fast as possible. This is good to ensure that, if needed, you know where everything is and how to proceed. Also, have a destination in mind — one that you know will be safe for you, your family, and your horses. This can mean moving elsewhere entirely, or knowing barns that can take in horses in case of a disaster. Whatever is more feasible, it’s good to think in advance.

This ties back to providing all the necessary documentation, vaccines, etc., mentioned above. Have a clear route defined, and prioritize which horses to evacuate first, in case you have more than one and can’t do them all at the same time. Even loading order is necessary so you don’t get lost or confused. The more this is practiced, the quicker and easier it becomes. Keep metrics!

More information

There are several sources online that can give specifics to your region and country. In special when it comes to evacuation, your state, country or region may require different certificates of health and tests before the horses cross the border. Investigate whatever rules apply to your region and plan for them accordingly.

Disaster situation preparedness is vital for anyone, but doubly so for people who have pets. Big animals such as horses need even more preparation. We hope these suggestions can help you to prepare for disaster situations. Even if they are never needed!

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