Tornadoes Foster Summer Storm Tips

Tornadoes Foster Summer Storm Tips

If you're sheltering horses in place during a storm and a barn collapse is likely, it's advisable to turn horses out so they're not trapped in a fallen structure.

Photo: Thinkstock

Recent storms have reminded horse owners of the importance of disaster preparedness.

The National Weather Service reports that a series of tornadoes and summer storms hit states from Texas to Tennessee between April 27 and April 29. In Oklahoma, tornado winds rose so quickly, residents had little time to prepare for the high winds and rain to come. Meanwhile, in Arkansas, at least 16 people perished in a deadly tornado that passed though that state on April 27.

“We only had one report of a horse being taken to a (veterinarian) for lacerations,” said David Hogue, county attorney for Faulkner County, Ark.

The following day, horse owners in Tennessee were bracing for driving rain.

“I haven't heard (that horses are being evacuated), but not only are the horses watching the (water) rising, they are heading for higher ground,” said Vivi Stevenson Miller, whose Mountain Dew Farm hosts continuing education in disaster response and animal management during disasters.

While some horse owners are preparing for impending storms, others around the nation are bracing for an active storm season. Rebecca Gimenez, PhD, of the Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue, said there are steps owners can take to protect their animals.

First, Gimenez recommends owners create and execute a plan to either evacuate horses ahead of dangerous weather or to shelter the animals in place on their own properties. If horses will be evacuated, owners should have vehicles filled with gas and trailers filled with necessary bedding, feed, and supplies, Gimenez said. Owners should also make sure horses can be easily led and will load into trailers without incident.

Owners who shelter their horses in place should make sure they remove from the barn and pastures any items or implements that might become projectiles and injure animals during the storm, Gimenez said. If a barn collapse is likely Gimenez advises that owners with sufficient space turn their horses out in advance of a storm.

Florida horse owner Suzette Waldron recommends making sure their owners' names and contact information is somehow attached to horses that are turned out during a storm.

“Owners can use cattle crayons to write their contact information directly on the horses, or they can braid luggage tags containing their contact information into their horses' manes,” Waldron said.

In any case, Gimenez reminds horse owners to make human safety a priority in any storm situation. She recommends establishing space in the center of the barn to accommodate people who might be trapped there when the storm strikes. She also recommends that horse owners become familiar with basic first-aid techniques should they be needed in the storm's aftermath.

“In a disaster, it's people first,” Gimenez said.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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