for the Horse Owner : When it’s Time to Go!
We need a disaster plan to evacuate our horses in emergencies. Robert Pruitt
Fires, floods and other natural disasters happen every year. What do we do with our horses? Horses are very and large and emotional animals, if you wait for the emergency to happen, when
panic is in control of the moment, it may be too late for your horse.
Being prepared in advance can lower fear levels as
well as prevent the human disaster of people becoming hurt or worse as they try to save their animals.
Our horses are going to feel your anxiety and stress..
.everything is going to take longer than it normal.
During an emergency, it is not unusual for horses to be unwilling to leave their stalls or corrals. Be difficult to
load in a trailer...if a trailer is even available.
If fire or flood is a threat your horses must be led to a secure area.
Have an emergency plan and practice it before the disaster occurs.
Remember all your family and pets should be included in the evacuation plan.
Be prepared to move your horse out of harms way. Leaving early is the Key to success!
If you have decided to evacuate before a hurricane arrives then don’t delay. Leave at least 48 hours before the storm is predicted. The
worse thing that could happen to you is to be caught in traffic on the road when the storm or fire arrives. Your horse trailer and truck will
not survive the power of a hurricane and you are not going to outrun a firestorm.
Your horses food and water should be in a waterproof container if possible. Big plastic trash cans with matching lids might work out for
your hay and grain and 50 gallon plastic water barrels for fresh water. Remember power may not be available for some time after a
disaster. After the Emergency there may be no fresh water available to livestock; you should have prepared a food and water supply for your animals that is kept clean and dry for your return.
Some horses do poorly if they feed is changed rapidly. Always have at least 3 days grain and hay on hand.
Fire is the single greatest threat to horses in barns and corrals.
Be sure you have a fully charged and working fire extinguisher and keep flammable materials
away from the horse barn’s breezeways. Plant material and debris should be cleared around horse housing areas. Hay bales should be stored in a separate area or building.
If you don’t own a horse trailer then it is a good idea to have several (more than 2) people asked in advance, prepared to help move your horses in an emergency.
If you have a horse trailer how well does your horse load into it? Practice trailer loading with your horse to develop the confidence the horse and you need to get him loaded when the
pressure is on. Consider buying horse panels or a portable corral that can be attached to your horse trailer. If necessary these panels can be a safe place to stable your horses should
you have to travel a longer distance to find safety. You can secure your horse almost anywhere if you have a portable stall or fence , and a horse trailer with your hay and water.
Where are you going to take your horses?
If the emergency is a local one, like a local creek flooding you may be able to take your
horses to a neighbor’s property. For bigger events you should contact horse show facilities and fairgrounds
before a disaster to see if they have stalls that may be available during an emergency.
Your truck and trailer should be full of gas and well maintained before you make an attempt to leave. Rental Stables may help keep
horses temporarily in their round pens or arenas. Develop these relationships in advance. Call them to let them know you are on your
way and the route you plan to take. Familiarize yourself with several evacuation routes to your destination.
Keep your horse paperwork where you can find it.
This is very important. Keep the information in a watertight bag or box.
You will need a current coggins test. A drawing with your horses identifying markings, tattoos, microchip ID, special scars and any other
permanent identification, name and phone number of your Veterinarian, as well as your personal contact information should be part of
your paperwork package. You will need to show some kind of proof of ownership in order to pick up your horse when the emergency
is over. Take a picture of your horse with yourself or family member standing near as more proof of ownership and keep it with your ownership information.
Other items that you should have at hand:
Keep a web type breakaway halter with your horse’s name; your name and phone number and a different emergency phone number written with a waterproof sharpie type marker.
Another way to keep your horse identified in addition to the identity halter would be to have some wide white ribbons with your contact
information written. The identity ribbon can be quickly braided into the horses tail and mane to be a redundant way to identify your horse.
Bring a portable first aid kit, don’t forget medications your horse may be taking.
Bring a three-day supply of food and water to be
loaded into your horse trailer in case of a longer evacuation or temporary stay at a park etc.
Your disaster plan should be in writing and your neighbors and extended family should have a copy.
Include flashlights and extra batteries with area maps.
Do not put a copy of the horse's coggins test on the horse. A coggins test is a passport out of state for horse theives.
If you find a loose horse remember he is probably frightened so be sure to use caution. If you are trying to rescue horses in your area remember never
When you are able to return to your home be sure to check for safety. Are fences or power lines down? Look for sharp objects and
dangerous obstacles before you release your horses into their homes.
If you must leave your horses, leave them in the safe pre-selected area. Leave enough hay and water for 48 to 72 hours.
Do not rely on automatic watering systems.
Contact your local humane society, agricultural extension agent, or local emergency management agency to get information about your
community's disaster response plans. Work with other horse owners in your area for a more effective emergency plan.
Robert Pruitt InfoHorse.com CEO