Chance Ward 2017 horse rescue from Hurricane Harvey flooding How do you keep yourself and your horses safe when natural disaster strikes? Here are a few tips!

8 Natural Disaster Tips for Horse Owners

by Clayton McCook, DVM, MS, Founder Oklahoma Livestock First Responders, and Michele DeVinney Schmoll

Horse owners plan

The horse world is feeling the impact after mother nature continues pounding communities with everything she has. It began last month when an Oklahoma twister wiped out more than 200 horses. Raging wildfires struck Colorado this month and Alberta, Canada was hammered by unprecedented flooding this past week.

Flood waters mean other creatures will be trying to get to higher ground as well, including bugs. Be prepared for you and your horses.
Flood waters mean other creatures will be trying to get to higher ground as well, including bugs. Prepare for yourself and your horses.

So what can you do to protect your horses and other animals before natural disaster strikes?

Start with a plan. A hurricane may give you time to evacuate, but in the case of a tornado, fire, flooding, or earthquake – don’t plan on a warning.

When the gas stations are without power, they can’t sell you fuel.

Do you have a generator? Generators run on gasoline or propane, so make sure they are fueled. If you have a well, a generator is a must so horses can get water.

Walkie-talkies are great to have in times of disaster as are paper maps of your state and surrounding states.

Place placards on property fence gates informing firefighters that animals are being sheltered in place. Owners should also include their names and contact information. Also, make sure your address is highly visible in times of disasters. Mailboxes and street signs may get lost during flooding or severe winds.

Horse Contacts

Keep a paper list of emergency contacts and addresses in case you cannot power up your cell phone. Make sure your list includes Emergency Management, Animal Control, Veterinarian, USDA, Agriculture Department and other numbers you may need.

Develop a team plan with a neighbor(s). This may help in the joint use of resources such as a trailer and supplies. It also helps to outline a plan. Inform each other in the case of an evacuation. Working as a team, you will be better able to efficiently evacuate in a shorter amount of time.

Make a list of facilities in your state and surrounding states that are open for disasters. Know different routes to get there in case your main route is blocked or congested.


Horse Proof of Ownership

Have a folder of all your horses’ medical records including ownership paperwork. If you put all of your paperwork in a small portable file it can be quickly located and loaded in case of an emergency.

Don't leave horses to fend for themselves in wildfires. Get them out before evacuation orders.
Don’t leave horses to fend for themselves in wildfires. Get them out before evacuation orders, if possible.

If you need to travel over state lines you may also need Health Certificates. If your animals are microchipped, branded or tattooed make sure you have this information and photos. Have a photo of each animal with a family member. This easy and quick idea is priceless to help prove ownership if your horse is displaced along with your Bill of Sale.

Core vaccines, like Tetanus and Encephalitis, are especially important during a disaster due to debris and potential flooding.

A current Coggins test is necessary to overnight at many evacuation facilities and to cross state lines.


Equine First Aid Kit

An equine first aid kit is essential for all horse owners to have in the barn or trailer – it is important it is enclosed in a waterproof container. A general first aid kit that is routinely updated can be used for emergencies including wounds, colic, foot injuries, dehydration or other trauma and then be available for an evacuation in case of disaster. Make sure you have a sharpie in it, duct tape and a flashlight with back up batteries.

Clearly label all horse medication and keep it in an appropriate container so it can be quickly located and loaded.

After natural disasters, there are hundreds of displaced animals and horses. The majority of these animals do not have any type of identification which makes finding their owners difficult. If you have lost or found a horse, call your local Humane Society and Stolen Horse International aka

In natural disasters, waives its listing fee.