Horse owners should plan ahead for tropical storms

Bruce Schultz  |  8/2/2018 8:34:47 PM

(08/02/18) CROWLEY, La. — Horse owners should prepare for a hurricane long before a tropical system threatens to enter the Gulf of Mexico.

“Planning is the key to keeping your horses safe,” said Howard Cormier, of the LSU AgCenter Master Horseman Program. “Ensure that your horse is up-to-date on all vaccines.”

He said his own personal experiences preparing for a storm led him to detailing steps that horse owners should consider.

“I just realized there’s work to be done in preparation for a storm, and if you can get most of it done ahead of time, the better off you are. It’s all real life experiences that make you wiser,” Cormier said.

For example, Cormier recalled cutting trees just before a storm and realizing how much easier it would have been to do that work earlier without the stress of approaching weather.

If a horse owner plans to leave an area in the path of a storm, several steps should be taken in advance, Cormier advised. Many horse owners never transport their animals, but horses should be taught to enter a trailer long before evacuation time.

“You do not want to get into a big fight with a resistant horse and then have to haul it to a vet because of an injury while loading,” he said.

Planning for an evacuation also includes determining evacuation routes, locating evacuation stables and finding feed sources. Evacuation should be early enough to prevent traffic delays. Horses should be observed for potential dehydration and signs of colic or intestinal distress, he said.

If you plan to remain at home with horses, Cormier recommends the following:

  • A two-week supply of hay in a waterproof location should be in a high and dry area.
  • An emergency kit that includes a light with extra batteries, rope, chainsaw, fuel, hammer, saw, nails, screws, spray paint and fencing material, including fence pliers.
  • Identification records for each horse, including recent photos with a family member and pictures of identifying brands, tattoos and scars. Microchip information and medical documents are also helpful. Keep this information in a secure location that can be accessed after a storm. Also consider sending a copy of this information to a friend.
  • An inspection of fencing to make sure it is adequate. Barbed wire will allow wind and water to pass while board fencing can be knocked down.
  • Removal of dead or weak trees, especially if they are on a fence line.
  • Making a wind-release feature, or vent, on barns or sheds to allow wind to escape. Structures open on one side capture destructive winds.
  • Attach identification to all horses that could include ID tags on fetlocks or halters, spray painting phone numbers on the animal or tying waterproof bags to the mane containing ownership information.
  • Turn off electric circuit breakers to the barn or any other area where horses will be kept.
  • Provide hay and water for each horse during the storm, although they will probably not eat during the worst of it.
  • Remove hazards from the area where the horses will be kept.
  • Allow access to higher ground if horses are outside, and try to provide a windbreak, such as a wall or row of trees or bushes.
  • Fill a barrel or old bathtub with water just before a storm so drinking water will be available if electricity is off.
  • Meet with neighbors to let them know how many horses you have, where paperwork can be found and your veterinarian’s phone number. Visit neighbors’ barns so you can help them, too.

Immediately before a storm:

horses at gray ranch.jpg thumbnail

Horse owners should prepare in advance of tropical storms to assure their animals are protected. Photo by Bruce Schultz/LSU AgCenter

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