January 23, 2020

Ready or not – Are you Prepared?

How nice it would be if during a natural disaster or emergency, you casually walkout, hook up your truck and trailer, load your hay, supplements and all the other items on your checklist; walk to the barn, grab your halters, fly masks and equine identification; all your horses willingly walk into the trailer and you leave peacefully.  In a perfect world this is how simple it should happen. 

Reality more often then not happens rapidly and unexpectedly.  This is why we plan and prepare.

You can start today with these 5 easy steps; however, they will take time and implementation.  You will be happy you began sooner rather than later.

The key is to work towards keeping your belongings, home and animals safe.  Provide a safe zone around your property, driveways easily accessible to first responders, safe area if you have to shelter in place for your equines and you taking measures to help insure the best outcome for survival. 

Overwhelm can take a disastrous front seat in an emergency situation, by planning, we can help avoid some anxiety.  Plan early, practice often and prepare immediately.

Your plan should consist of what, where and when: 

* The what: Having the knowledge to execute

* The where and when: Know where you are going and how to get there as well as when you must leave.

Here are 5 Tips to Keep You and Your Horses Safe

1: Your emergency evacuation plan:

This is the most important step because it does take effort, planning and implementation.

One step that many people are not aware of or utilize is to obtain fire safety assistance from your local fire agency.  Invite them to perform a review of your property to help with your plans.  They can help you determine if your property has a safe location to shelter in place, your specific property and location may need special measures to keep it safe from fire, flood or other situations.

If you own a boarding facility, a helpful tip here is to display a map of your property at its entrance or someplace highly visible that denotes where you have trailer parking, barns, fire hydrants, fire extinguishers, arenas, turnouts etc.  This information will be useful to those who may not be familiar with your property. 

After you have taken this precaution, the next part of your plan is knowing where you will be taking your equines, any location out of the danger zone is acceptable and many city, town and counties do open evacuation facilities.  Understand however that it may take up to 24 hours for officials to open a facility with volunteers to man it and getting it equipped to receive animals, so you may need a temporary alternative location until this happens.  Your local municipality should have the facility manned 24 hours when it is open and they typically provide care, boarding, usually feed and possibly veterinarian care for all who are provided shelter.  You may need to contact local authorities to confirm facts and whether payment will be required for some or any of the services.  The advantage is that these facilities are usually well out of the danger.  Contact your local fairgrounds, animal shelters, ASPCA, Human Society and get the information ahead of time.  It is also a good idea (especially if you are new to an area) to make a “dry” run to the facility; find alternate routes; locate entry and exit gates and address any safety concerns you may encounter. 

If you choose to take your animals to a friend’s house or boarding facility, confirm that the area will not be affected by the current situation as the last thing you want to happen is for you to have to rush and move your animals a second or third time.

2 Halter, Lead rope and equine identification

This is probably the most shocking discovery for rescue volunteers; not having enough halters to properly and safely evacuate animals.

Have a halter, lead rope and equine identification for each and every equine; baling twine does not count as an alternative to a halter.  As simple as this sounds, often volunteers who help remove animals either have fewer halters then animals or are unable to locate halters to safely remove the equines.

Rest assured these horses will be easily identified!

Here are a couple suggestions: 

A: Place a halter, lead rope and equine identification together in a bag located at each horses’ stall or corral with “Evacuation Kit” on the outside. This practice has helped many boarding facilities to be able to leave a property in a timely manner. 

B: Purchase specific color halters and lead ropes, hang them in one area with a large sign that indicates they are “Evacuation Halters” and each halter has identification on it as to the boarding facilities name and telephone number. 

Equine identification is just as important as a halter and lead rope.  Why, you might ask?  When your horse is removed, often by others when you are away from your property how can you be assured that someone will contact you with their location? Be proactive and have your contact information visible and available on a halter or provided on an Identification collar or Fetlock ID band. 

Using an ID collar ensures your horse will be identified if they get lost.
Keep an ID Collar on your horse

You do not want to be one of the many people posting on social media “Have you seen this horse”?

3: Proof of ownership

Each state recognizes equine ownership differently.  With horses easily be stolen during natural disasters, it is important that you can prove which equine is yours.  Our advice is to contact your local brand inspector, agriculture department even the local police department so they can tell you what they require as proof of ownership.

Take these items however and put them in your vehicle under the seat in a plastic bag.  You will be ahead of the game and not have to be scrambling during your evacuation; add any additional items as needed.

  • Current Coggins
    • Progressive Veterinarian records.
    • Bill of Sale from whom you purchased the horse from with date of purchase.
    • Photos of the horse(s) with you included in them as well.
    • Copy of breed registration papers if available.
    • Microchip registration

4: First Aid Kit

Always have a well-stocked first aid kit whenever you have equines; but during an emergency or evacuation is most important.  There are several resources that talk about first aid kits, EquestriSafe also has several available.  Your kit should be marked appropriately, placed in a single bag or box easily accessible and transportable.

Often you will hear me call a First aid Kit a trauma kit, this is because I believe that your First aid kit should help you to get from where you are to where you need to be. 

5: Loading Horses

This should be simple, make sure that every equine will and can load in a trailer.  Better yet, practice loading them into different trailers because you never know who might have to load your horses, how and what type of trailer they will have at their disposal.

Enjoy a trailer loading day at your next event or ask your friends if you can practice loading in their trailer. 

EquestriSafe offers quantity discounts for groups, organizations and boarding facilities. Contact us today at info@EquestriSafe.com

Be sure your horse will load safely
Horses safely loaded

If you can implement these 4 steps and begin the process of your personal preparedness, you will be further ahead of most people and I compliment you on being Prepared Before Emergencies Happen.

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Teresa Spencer
Author, presenter, horse owner, entrepreneur; helping horse owners get the barn of their dreams and educating them on the importance of barn layout and safety as well as equine safety during emergencies. Proud member of CSHA(California State Horseman’s Association), former member of: Equestrian Trails – Corral 138, AQHA, APHA. For more information visit www.EquestriSafe.com

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