How to Prepare For a Disaster with Horses
1. Train your horses to load and load well. Trying to load an untrained horse when stress is high can be dangerous and time consuming. Also if your horse is ever injured severely it will be extremely important for your horse to load in a horse trailer without incident. A horse that is hard to catch and hard to handle just may have to stay!
2. Be able to identify your horses. Take pictures or videos and have written descriptions. Store one set in a safe place (a safe deposit box at a bank is one option) and keep another set with you. Typically your horse is going to end up in a pasture somewhere.
3. If your horse is going to a community rescue site or there is a chance he will become loose have some type of identification on the horse. An identification tag on the halter will work, but microchips, brands or tattoos are more permanent. Be sure your emergency contact information is included on the ID tag.
4. Make sure your truck and trailer are in good working order and packed with needed supplies. Do not use your trailer as a storage area. If you do not own a trailer, make advance arrangements with several friends or a local hauler who can be contacted at a moment’s notice. Don’t wait until the emergency to start looking for a way to move your horses, it will be too late.
5. Have a fire plan at your stables or barn and that plan should included not parking horse trailers and tow vehicles close to main building where they be involved in the building fire or a vehicle may end up being the source of the fire. Make sure all health records and registrations papers are in one location and can be moved quickly. One notebook with all the coggins test for every horse in one place.
6. Make advance arrangements with several friends who have room for your horses. If this is not possible contact your local fairgrounds or horse facilities to find out their policies for accepting horses during an emergency – have several options available. There is always people with land that can help if contacted in advance. Make a small list before a emergency is right on top of you.
7. Know the various routes to the facility to which you are taking the horses. A road may be closed, so have an alternate route in mind. also be prepared to sit in traffic for hours, having a back up route could save you hours.
8. Assign duties at the stables, in advance, to the various people who will be helping evacuate the horses or help with the ones who must stay. If people know what is expected and their exact job, things will go smoothly. This basic plan should be practiced once a year.
9. Leave your contact information in several conspicuous places in your barn, office or house and on the outside of your horse property. If someone drives by and sees your livestock out on the road an easy to access phone number could save your horses at 4 in the morning.
10. In the event you are not at home, make arrangements with several friends or neighbors so they can evacuate your horses. Go over your plans and have the information available to them. Keep it up-dated. This would be a nightmare situation but has to be anticipated.
11. Pack enough hay, feed, medications, supplements and water (if needed) for several days. Extra buckets should be already packed in the trailer and kept there for anytime you and the horses are on the road. Also the ability to halter, lead and possibly stake your horses out to feed and wait till the disaster has passed.
12. If you are going to have to make several trips, don’t wait until the last evacuate order is issued. Start moving horses out early and give yourself enough time and think about your fuel usage. Diesel is not always available in all areas in an disaster. It is possible if you wait too long, you will be trapped in harms way with your livestock in the open, with few options. Use common sense and know when it is better to stay put.
13. Don’t forget to have an emergency bag packed and ready with your personal items, snacks and any necessities, camera and cell phones. Once you get the livestock and yourself out of the danger zone you will appreciate a moment to rest, think and at least have a snack and drink and be able to check in by phone.
14. Prepare a list of important, your personal documents you will need and have them readily available. These items would include credit cards, bank account information, health insurance cards and check books, keys to facilities and lock all feed storage areas before leaving. Stop by your bank and secure some cash, in a disaster your cards and paper checks may become worthless. Be prepared for your next horse disaster.