Written by Anna Helman

Natural disasters and devastation go hand-in-hand. Natural disasters in our horse community can often result in the loss of our beloved horses, our dream barns and houses, and our life savings. In today’s blog, I will describe the average emergency plan for each type of natural disaster. Yet for such traumatic events, former CNN anchor Daryn Kagan said it best when he stated that, “bad things do happen in this world, like war, natural disasters, and disease. But out of those situations always arise stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”

Please remember that national disasters are highly divergent so these preparation plans are not always the best choice for your particular situation. As a horse owner, it is always crucial to trust your horse-knowledge and instincts.


Action: Evacuate


*      Have a designated barn at a higher elevation

Flood on American Countryside

*      Know the routes to get to your designated location

o   Make sure these routes are not in the flood zone or are predisposed to being shut down

*      Each driver should be assigned a trailer that they have had experience driving

*      Each trailer should be assigned individual horses

*      Know the amount of time it would take to evacuate the entire barn to the designated location

*      Make sure trucks and trailers are well-maintained

*      Pack enough grain and hay in the trailer to feed your horses for multiple days

Evacuation Plan:

If you are ever unsure whether or not to evacuate your barn, it is always better to error on the side of caution. Evacuations are tedious but floodwaters have the capability of rising extremely fast. During potential flooding times make sure you have trailer drivers on stand-by, you are continually watching the weather projections and monitoring how your property is beginning to flood.


Actions: ReleaseTornado and lightning


*      Each horse should have a leather halter

*      Duck tape, vet wrap, and spray paint should be stock-piled in your barn

Evacuation Plan:

              Horses have a much greater chance of surviving when running free rather than being locked in a stall. Releasing your horse(s) does not mean releasing them into a paddock but rather into the community. When you release your horse(s), have your phone number on their halters and on their bodies. For their halters, you should wrap vet wrap around the check piece of the leather halter. Then wrap the duck tape around the vet tape and write your phone number on the duck tape. Using the spray paint, you should spray your phone number on the body of your horse, on both sides. After the tornado, the halter will allow your horse to be caught but if your horse cannot be caught, someone can call you by reading the phone number on their side. Micro chipping your horse is also beneficial in the situation.



Actions: Release


*      Preparation for this plan is a replication of the tornado plan

Evacuation Plan:

The paths of hurricanes are highly unpredictable so having a designated barn would not provide much security. As with a tornado, horses have a higher likelihood of surviving when running free. Spray paint your phone number on both sides of your horse and write your number on the piece of duck tape on the check piece of your horse’s leather halter.

Blizzards/Heavy Snow

Actions: None


*      Make sure someone can easily access the barn during snowy conditions (lives nearby, has 4-wheel drive vehicle)

*      Have large stock-piles of hay and bedding

*      Make sure all water-heaters are in good condition and operating well


              During blizzards/heavy snow, your horses should be cozily tucked away in their stalls. In extremely cold weather, it is important to give your horse plenty of hay and water. By eating hay, horses can maintain their internal body temperature and also remain occupied. Then a constant supply of clean, fresh water will prevent them from becoming dehydrated and possibly colicing.

Brush/Forest Fires

Actions: Evacuate


*      Preparation for this plan is a replication of the flood plan

Evacuation Plan:

Your designated barn should be far away to ensure that it would be a safe distance away from the fire (usually hours away). A distant designated barn means that your traveling times will greatly increase so plan to have plenty of trailers and drivers in order to evacuate your entire barn. In the case that your barn burns down, you should have a back-up plan for taking care of your horses until you can relocate them.


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