Horse Disasters
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Horse Disasters

August 13, 2019

Each year, thousands of horses and horse owners
are impacted by disaster—such as: tornados, wildfires, floods and many other things. Anything
that impacts the wellbeing of the horse, is a disaster to that horse’s owner. But by
definition, a disaster is anything that overwhelms the ability of local law enforcement and other
resources to respond. The purpose of this video will be to provide some tips for horse
owners to prepare their horses to give them the best chance of survival during a disaster.So
just what can horse owners do to prepare? First and foremost, it is important for them
to have an understanding of the kinds of disasters that could affect their area, a basic plan
for where they would or could evacuate to, and an idea of multiple routes to get there
in the event that one or more are impassable. Having an evacuation plan is important, but it is completely useless
if your horse won’t load into a trailer to evacuate. Practice loading and unloading
horses under both normal circumstances and under varying noise and stimulation levels,
and at all hours. Keep in mind that handling a panicked horse is much different — and
more dangerous — than handling a horse under normal circumstances. Develop your knowledge
of horse behavior and your understanding of how horses react when faced with smoke, fire,
unusual noises, and what not. Practice ahead of time can help make the process go more
smoothly. Stay calm, and remember that your calm yet firm demeanor will increase their
odds of survival. Horse owners should also make certain that they can evacuate all horses
within 30 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the disaster, and that all equipment required
to evacuate is in good working order. A wildfire moving in your direction is not the time to
discover that your truck won’t start or the trailer tires are flat. If you’re taking
horses, you’ll also need to make sure you have plenty of feed, water, and medical supplies
as needed. If you decide to leave horses outside, and leave them behind, open gates between
pastures so that they can use their instincts to move to the areas most likely to allow
them to survive. For example, horses will typically move
away from rising water if they are able. One of the most difficult decisions to make is
whether to leave horses inside or out during tornados or other weather-related events and
there really is no simple answer. Each situation needs to be evaluated on a case by case basis,
as the landscape will vary from place to place. For example, in the Midwest, there may be
increased opportunities for trees to fall on fence lines, where that is less of an issue
in the plains states. Finally, keep copies of all ownership and registration documents,
as well as breeding records, photos and emergency contacts (including your own) in a waterproof
container in your truck or trailer. You may also wish to scan copies of the same documents
and save them to a flash drive in another location, such as a business or office, in
case originals are destroyed during the incident. This video highlights only the basics of planning
for a disaster with your horses’ best interest in mind. For more information, visit
and eXtension to find more resources on giving your horse the best chance during a disaster

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