Well Before the Storm
Vaccination: All horses should have a tetanus toxoid vaccine within the last year. Due to the increase in mosquitoes after massive rainfall, all horses should receive West Nile virus and Eastern/ Western Encephalitis vaccinations at the beginning of hurricane season.
Coggins test: A negative Coggins test is required any time a horse leaves the property where he lives. This requirement is often waived for emergency evacuation, but is typically required by boarding facilities, even temporary emergency facilities. If you think you might move your horse, have a Coggins test done!
Health Certificate: A health certificate is required to cross the state line. This may be necessary for evacuation of coastal areas. Ask your veterinarian about getting an equine passport that allows interstate travel in several states and is good for 6 months.
Horse Records and Proof of Ownership: Keep records identifying your horses readily available. This includes Coggins with digital photos; any additional photos that could be used to identify your horse (highlighting obvious identifying marks and ideally showing the owner with the horse), registration papers, and microchip number, if horse is microchipped.
If you might Evacuate
Evacuation Options: Research your evacuation options before the first storm. First, decide under what conditions you would evacuate. For example, stay for a category 2 but evacuate for a category 3? Find evacuation facilities that fit your needs and be sure to check each hurricane season that they are still available. If possible, find two evacuation facilities in opposite directions. Know ahead of time what the facility owners require so you can be prepared. Evacuation must occur at least 48 hours before hurricane force winds occur in the area. Transportation of horses when wind gusts exceed 40 mph is dangerous.
Truck/Trailer: Inspect your truck and trailer hitch to ensure that you can safely transport your horses. Check the floor, tires, brakes and lights of your trailer to make sure it is safe and in working order.
If you will Stay in Place
Before each Storm
Identification: Each horse should be identified with at least one, if not all of the following:
- A waterproof luggage tag with horse’s name and your name and phone number (not a landline in case phone service is disrupted) zip-tied into a braided mane or tail.
- A metal pet tag engraved with your horse’s name and your name and phone number (not a landline in case phone service is disrupted) zip-tied into a braided mane or tail.
- Use latex spray paint or a livestock marker like Paintstik to paint your phone number on the horse’s side.
- Microchip – while a microchip won’t provide immediate recognition of ownership, it can be invaluable for proving ownership, especially for horses, donkeys and mules with limited identifying features.
Each horse will need 12 to 20 gallons of water per day. Fill garbage cans with plastic liners and fill all water troughs. Water can also be stored in large coolers.
Have a generator to run the well if you have a large number of horses.
Keep chlorine bleach on hand to add to contaminated water if necessary. To purify water add two drops of chlorine bleach per quart of water and let stand for 30 minutes.
Store enough hay and feed to last at least 72 hours (seven days is best). It is possible that roads will be closed because of down power lines and trees, limiting access to feed stores. Cover hay with waterproof tarps and place it on palates. Keep grain in watertight containers.
Have on hand effective fly spray for horses and insect repellent for people !
Should horses be left in the pasture or placed in the barn?
If the pasture has good fencing and limited trees, it is probably best to leave the horses outside. Well-constructed pole barns or concrete block barns may provide safety from flying debris, but the horses may become trapped if the wind collapses the building.
Do not leave horses out with halters on. Halters can get tangled and caught on debris and cause serious injury or death.
Fencing: Do not keep horses in barbed wire or electric fencing during a storm.
Secure all movable objects
Remove all items from barn aisles.
Jumps and lawn furniture should be secured in a safe place.
Place large vehicles/ tractors/ trailers where trees cannot fall on them.
Turn off electrical power to barn
Emergency First Aid Kit
Assemble the following in a waterproof container:
- Absorbent compress dressings – anything thick and absorbent to use when applying pressure to a bleeding wound
- Bandage material – rolled cotton or a specifically designed bandage roll
- Self-adhesive bandage such as Vetwrap or Coflex 4-inch rolls
- Non-stick Telfa pads
- Gauze 4X4 pads
- Antiseptic wound scrub and solution
- Antiseptic wound ointment
- Cotton-tipped swabs
- 60cc Syringe for flushing wounds
- Bandage Scissors
- Duct tape
- Eye wash
- Epsom salt
- Hoof pick
- List of Equine Vital Sign normals
- Phone number(s) for your Veterinarian
Have an emergency barn/farm kit containing a chain saw and fuel, hammer(s), nails, screws and fencing material including wire cutters.
After the Storm
Carefully inspect each horse for injury to eyes and limbs.
Walk the pasture to remove debris and downed branches. The wilted leaves of cherry (including wild cherry) and Red Maple trees are extremely toxic if ingested.
Fire ants and snakes will search for high ground during flooding. Carefully look over the premises for these potential dangers.
Inspect the property for down power lines.
Check your stalls for debris, water and snakes before putting horses back in them. Do not put your hands into places that you cannot see – snakes could be hiding in them!
If your horse is missing, contact the local sheriff’s department or disaster response team.
Take pictures of storm damage.