Archive for June, 2013

Disaster Tips for horse owners

June 27, 2013

Horse Evacuations East does a great job of putting people in touch with each other… now they’ve come up with a list of GREAT suggestions as to what to do in a disaster.  Sadly, we now live in a life where being prepared is not just a boy scout motto.  It’s a reality. We have to be prepared for the worst… and hope for the best. 

Here is the link to Horse Evacuation East.  And if you can, PLEASE friend them, learn about what they do, and HELP.  And while you’re at it, get in touch with Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue (TLEAR).  Both HEE and TLEAR have a FaceBook presence.  It takes ALL of us to make a difference in an emergency.  And the best we can do is to learn WHAT to do and hope to hell we never need the information.

Natural Disaster Tips for Horse Owners
by Horse Evacuations East (Notes) on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 2:50pm

Natural Disaster Tips for Horse Owners

from Horse Evacuations East(HEE) and Oklahoma Livestock First Responders(OLFR)

By Michele DeVinney Schmoll(HEE) and Dr. Clayton McCook, DVM(OLFR)


Michele DeVinney Schmoll and Dr. Clayton McCook , DVM have been working with horse owners during natural disasters many years and put together these disaster tips to help you be prepared. With a hurricane you know it is coming and you have time to evacuate.  Other natural disasters such as tornadoes, flooding, mud slides, fire and earthquakes you may not have any warning so you need to pay attention to your weather and environment. You need to have a written preparedness plan and stick to it.   The worst thing you can do is second guess yourself when you are in the middle of a disaster situation.   If evacuation is an option, then do it.  Allow yourself enough time. Do not delay or you may be stuck in traffic with your horse or worse, in the middle of the disaster with no way out.  First and foremost make sure you and your family’s safety is never in jeopardy.   Have everything you need ready to evacuate.  Also make sure you register with the Red Cross’s Safe and Well program so loved ones and friends can find you if they cannot reach you via cell phone.


Stock up on fuel: When the gas stations are without power, they can’t sell you gasoline. Is your car/truck full? Do you have fuel cans that you can fill? Your generator runs on gasoline. Fill fuel cans prior to a storm.  They will not be wasted, even if the storm misses you, because you can use it in your car/truck or lawn mower/tractor.  We keep plenty of fuel cans on our farm for diesel and gasoline.  We also try and keep our generator ready in off seasons to make sure it works.  A generator in our area is a must because we have well water and without it our livestock will not have water.


Walkie-Talkies and CB Radios a great idea to have

Walkie-talkies are great to have in times of disaster.  Ours have a minimum 6 mile range. We have CB radios in our trucks or they do have handheld models with less range.  This way we can talk to each other and call for assistance on the emergency channels if needed. Often cellphone towers go down and you have no way to communicate.


Have Paper Maps

Make sure you have maps of your state and surrounding states in case GPS is not functioning due to downed cellphone towers.  You may need alternate evacuation routes due to damaged roadways or congestion.  Also street sign may be gone after the area is damaged.


Mark your property: Place placards on property fence gates informing firefighters that animals are being sheltered in place there. Owners should also include their names and contact information.  Also make sure your address is highly visible in times of disasters mailboxes are often lost and street signs.  If you need help you want them to be able to find you and your home.


Emergency Contacts

Keep a paper list of emergency contacts and addresses in case you cannot power up your cellphone.

Make sure your list includes Emergency Management, Animal Control, Veterinarian, USDA, Agriculture Department and other numbers you may need.


Team-up with a Neighbor or Horse Friends in your Community

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 joint 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.


Evacuations Centers and Facilities

Make a list of all facilities in your state or surrounding states that will be open in time of a disaster that you can evacuate to if you don’t already have arrangements made with a facility.  Know different routes to get there in case your main and fastest route is blocked or congested.  Always have a contingency plan.


Medical Records, Insurance Paperwork and Proof of Ownership

Have a folder of all your horses’ medical records including ownership paperwork in case you have to prove it.  If you put all of your paperwork in one small portable file container it can be quickly located and loaded in case of an emergency.  If you need to travel over state lines you may also need Health Certificates.  If your animals are micro chipped, branded or tattooed make sure you have this information and photos. Have photos of all your animals so you can identify them.  Taking photos with a family member helps in identifying them greatly.   Without Registered Identification on your horse law enforcement often leaves the horse with the person with possession. Stolen Horse International aka lists these ways to register your horse permanently: microchip, lip tattoo, hoof branding, Freeze or Hot branding your horse.   If you have to turn your animals loose see Animal Identification below. 


Vaccinations and Coggins

Make sure you keep your horses up to date on all core vaccines, especially Tetanus and Encephalitis.  Have a current Coggins on your horses. There is a huge risk during disasters especially when there is a lot of debris and flooding involved.   Many facilities will require Coggins if you evacuate to them. Not having animals up to date on vaccinations is a huge risk to take.  Many animals are injured from sharp objects and debris that lacerate their skin.


Equine First Aid Kit 

An equine first aid kit is essential for all horse owners to have in the barn or trailer. Make sure it is in a water proof container. A well-stocked first aid kit kept in the barn will always be available when the trailer is loaded with tack and supplies. A general first aid kit that is routinely updated can be used for emergencies like 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.


Horse Medication

If possible, clearly label all horse medication and keep it in an appropriate container that can be quickly located and loaded in emergencies.


Animal Identification

After natural disasters there are hundreds of displaced animals and horses. 95% of these animals do not have any type of identification on them and it makes finding their owners difficult.  We recommend in natural disasters that you horses do not wear a halter because thinks can get caught on them or in fire they can melt if nylon.  If you do leave on a halter make sure it is a break away and it is leather.  One of the goals of Animal Rescuers is to find loose horses and get them reunited with the owners as soon as possible. These suggestions will help tremendously. Remember, you cannot have too much identification on your horse.   If you have lost or found a horse please call your local Humane Society to register it.  A wonderful resource for lost or found horses is Stolen Horse International aka  In natural disasters we encourage you to also file report on and they will waive their fee.  Netposse recommends more permanent solutions of horse identification such as: Microchip, lip tattoo, hoof branding and freeze or hot branding your horse.

  • Fetlock Bands or Evacuation Collars also can be used depending on kind of disaster
  • Braid a water proof luggage tag, ribbon or dog tag with your name, 10 digit number and address on it into their mane.  Try not to use the tail sometimes it can cut off circulation or get caught.
  • Paint your 10 digit phone number on their side with spray paint, livestock paint or shoe polish in case they can’t be caught easily (premade stencils make  it fast and easy to do all animals)
  • If – you move your horses to a facility we recommend you either write your name and number on their halter or we use premade brass dog tags with all our info on them and attached to halter.  You can also put medical information on it if your horse has an allergy or medical condition.  Also putting a sign on their stall helps but they could be moved.
  • Using small animal clippers, body clip the same phone number on your horse’s neck.
  • Do not put a copy of the horse’s Coggins test on the horse. Animal Rescuers may not be the ones to find your horse. A Coggins test is a passport out of state.


Evacuation a few things to remember to take

  • Keep your horse’s dietary requirements written down and bring them with you
  • Bring medication, first aid kit and all veterinary supplies
  •  Bring your halters, lead ropes, wraps, twitch, blankets, fly masks, water and feed buckets
  • Take extra 50 feet cotton rope and flashlights with extra batteries
  • Take hay and feed enough for a week if possible
  • Carrying an ample supply of fresh water and buckets on the trailer will be very important during the evacuation in case you are caught in traffic for any duration. You will want to be able to provide the horses water while waiting on the highway. A generous supply of hay and grain will also be necessary.


Preparing for a Natural Disaster Regardless of whether you stay or evacuate, start early to clean up your property and remove all debris that may be tossed around by high winds or flooding. Remember, trees could be down blocking roads, and you may not be able to return to the barn immediately following the storm. Leave two buckets of water in your horse’s stall. Be alert to signs of smoke inhalation: Along with risk of lacerations and other injuries, horses sheltered in place run the risk of smoke inhalation if there is fire. Owners should be able to recognize signs that their horses have inhaled smoke; coughing, sneezing, or heavy breathing. Veterinarians treat smoke inhalation with antibiotics, as well as drugs that dilate airways and steroid drugs that reduce tissue inflammation. 

 If you plan to weather the storm at home, here are some guidelines:

  • The choice of keeping your horse in a barn or an open field is entirely up to you. Use common sense, taking into consideration barn structure, trees, power lines and the condition of surrounding properties.
  • Remove all items from the barn aisles and walls, and store them in a safe place.
  • Have two weeks supply of hay (wrapped in plastic or waterproof tarp) and feed (stored in plastic water-tight containers). Place these supplies in the highest and driest area possible.
  • Take two plywood boards and spray paint on one side of each board, “HAVE ANIMALS, NEED HELP.” On the other side of each board paint, “HAVE ANIMALS, OK FOR NOW.” Put both plywood boards with your feed supply.
  • Fill clean plastic garbage cans with water, secure the tops, and place them in the barn.
  • Prepare an emergency animal care kit (waterproof) with all the items you normally use: medications, salves, ointments, vet wraps, bandages, tape, etc. Place the kit in a safe place where you can get to it after a storm.
  • Have an emergency barn kit containing a chain saw and fuel, hammers, a saw, nails, screws and fencing materials. Place this kit in a secure area before the storm hits.
  • Have an ample supply of flashlights and batteries, and at least one battery-operated radio.
  • Using camper tie-downs, secure all vehicles, trailers and maintenance equipment.
  • Notify neighbors and family where you will be during the storm.
  • Before leaving the barn, attach identification to all horses.
  • Turn off circuit breakers to the barn before leaving. A power surge could cause sparks and fire.
  • Do not stay in the barn with your horse during the storm.
  • Place a supply of water and hay with each horse.
  • If fire-Remove horses from barns: Horses should be relocated from barns even if those structures are equipped with sprinkler systems. Paddocks or metal-construction areas provide safer shelter. Close up the barn to prevent scared horses from running back inside and becoming trapped.

After the Disaster

  • After the disaster has passed, roads will probably be blocked or flooded. Working in pairs, try to locate your nearest neighbor.
  • Be very careful when you venture outside. Live electric wires could be all around you.
  • See to your animal’s needs, keeping them as calm as possible.
  • Carefully try to clean debris from the barn, and clear the driveway out to the road.
  • Place one of the plywood signs you made earlier at the edge of your driveway, at the roadside, with the appropriate writing facing the road. Place the other sign in a clear area with the appropriate side facing upwards. Aircraft will be flying overhead, and this will help them determine the severity of the effects of the storm.
  • If you do not have a severely injured animal, put the OK sign up. In either case, help will get to you as soon as possible.
  • If you are in an area with high flooding remember that other creatures like snakes will seek higher ground also.  Please watch out for them hiding in dry places on your farm.


Lessons From Prior Disasters

  • Collapsed Barns – Owners thought their animals were safe inside their barn
  • Kidney Failure – Due to dehydration, wandering animals were deprived of water for days
  • Electrocution – Horses sought the lowest areas, in many cases this was a drainage ditch. The power lines that were blown down during the storm were strung over drainage ditches
  • Fencing Failure – Wandering animals, although unharmed during the storm, were hit and killed on the roadways
  • Injuries to animal due to flying debris and burns
  • Trees coming down in pastures due to excessive flooding and becoming a hazard to horses and possibly falling on them.  Check trees on your farm.





  • Colorado Community Animal Response Training: Distributed by Colorado State Animal Response Team, a program of the Colorado Veterinary Medical Foundation.