Natural disaster plan
As Hurricane Dorian sets up to strike Florida’s east coast in the coming days, weather experts have upped the season’s hurricane projections to seven.
That’s why horse owners need to have a natural disaster plan. Experts say the leading causes of death for horses in hurricanes are electrocution and kidney failure due to dehydration.
Additionally, horses are in danger of being killed on the roadway when the pasture fence fails.
Furthermore, horses left in barns may perish when stables collapse or flood. It’s a sober reminder to never leave any animal tied or locked up because they don’t have a chance of surviving without human intervention.
5 Horse Hurricane Tips
Horse Tip 1
Have the proper identification records readily available for all of your horses. Take recent pictures of each horse and any markings that may help identify them. Include yourself in a photo as well.
Permanent ID methods such as a microchip or brand should be handled prior to the call for evacuation due to a storm. If your horse gets loose during a hurricane, the microchip’s registration number will identify your equine if your horse’s halter and other methods fail.
When preparing, plan on utilizing only a leather halter – no nylon – for safety reasons. A ziplock bag can easily be attached to your farm’s contact information and photos with duct tape. Include a luggage tag braided in the mane and tail, but be careful to tie it only to the hair, not close to the tailbone.
Spray paint or clippers also work well for marking numbers on the side of your horse’s body.
Horse Tip 2
When debris begins flying and there is an increase in standing water due to heavy rain so you want to make sure your horses’ vaccines are up to date.
Veterinarians recommend horses have a tetanus vaccine within a year.
Mosquitoes rage after massive rainfall making it important for your horses to get West Nile virus and Eastern / Western Encephalitis vaccinations at the beginning of hurricane season as well.
When it comes to evacuating, your horses will need a negative Coggins test (EIA) to cross state lines or to board at any evacuation center or private farm.
A health certificate is also necessary. These documents and your horse’s papers should always remain safe with you. Do not affix to your horse.
Horse Tip 3
Will you stay and weather the storm or evacuate?
If evacuating, do you have the transportation capacity for all of your horses?
Do they all load on the horse trailer? If not, don’t wait for trailer training. For some horses, those first times can be a daunting process. If your horse hasn’t been off the farm — start before it is a matter of life or death.
Every horse owner must decide what they are capable of depending on their ability, property, and other mitigating factors.
For those staying and taking care of the horses, where will the horses stay during the storm? Is your barn new construction and rated for hurricanes? Will your property stay dry even when deluged by intense rain for hours?
(Click the play button below to see what happens when a horse is left in flood water for a long time. It shows the horse Jackie from the August 2016 Louisiana flood. Double Diamond Equine Veterinary Services treated her injuries.)
If not, what type of fencing do you have? Do you have power lines in the pasture? Trees?
Once you decide to stay, each horse will need at least 12-20 gallons/day of stored water.
Feed and hay will need to be kept on-site and protected from wet conditions. The barn’s power should be turned off before the storm hits.
And don’t contribute to flying debris that could impale your animals. Clean up around your property prior to the storm’s touch down.
Horse Tip 4
An Emergency First Aid Kit should contain basic emergency supplies. Several retailers sell pre-stocked kits or you can make your own. Prescription medications for pain relief, such as phenylbutazone (bute) or Banamine, must be purchased from your vet.
Include thermometer, liquid soap, rubber gloves, bandages, leg wraps, quilts, vet wrap, antiseptics, bandage scissors, topical antibiotic, pain relievers, tranquilizer, needles, syringes, gauze, cotton, 2″ adhesive tape, and duct tape.
Horse Tip 5
If you need to leave with your horses have a plan of where you will go and how you will get there.
Here is a list of horse evacuation sites by state, including Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.
Tampa, FL 33610
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC 27607
2900 NC Hwy 125 South
Williamston, NC 27892
1200 Rosewood Drive
Columbia SC 29201
443 Cleveland School Rd
Camden, SC 29020
10515 Colonial Downs Parkway
New Kent County, Virginia 23124
(804) 966-7223 ext. 1070
487 Maury River Road
Lexington, Virginia 24450
Planning ahead gives you the time and tools you need to be ready when the storm strikes — allowing you to keep your horses safe.
Warning – Video is Graphic
This article was originally published on October 4, 2016, and has been updated.
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