Few Horse Evacuations due to Severe Weather in Midwest

Though horses some were removed from damaged pastures, few animals were driven from their homes when high winds and driving rains swept through the Midwest on Sunday.

Andrew Krein, meteorologist for the National Weather Service's Chicago office, said that on Nov. 17, high winds and tornado conditions swept through rural Illinois, leaving the towns of Washington and Godfrey in shambles. Similar storms struck Indiana and Missouri, Krein said.

Though the storms' high winds forced some horses from their pastures, there have been no large scale horse evacuations due to the tornadoes, said Sheryl King, president of the Illinois Horseman's Counsel.

“We have heard that some horses were moved by their owners from pastures with fences down due to the tornado, but we are still waiting for reports of wide-spread horse evacuations,” King said.

King said that the tornado-force winds spared the Gordyville USA horse show facility, located near Washington. The show ground can hold over 700 portable stalls, according to the facility's website.

“If that barn had gone we would have no place to stage the horses (in the event of evacuations),” King said.

Instead, the facility is being used to stage volunteers that will help Washington and Godfrey residents deal with the devastation left in the tornado's aftermath, King said.

Whenever a storm packing high winds is predicted, Rebecca Gimenez, PhD, primary instructor and president of the Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue, recommends owners not confine their horses to the barn in many cases.

“Unless your barn is built like Fort Knox and certified for a high-wind event, horses should be in their pastures,” she said. “Horses may get nasty injuries, but they won’t be crushed in the barn.”

Gimenez also reminds owners to clear their property, pastures, and paddocks of any items that could become projectiles when a storm strikes, including tree limbs that could blow down in storm force winds and other debris.

In the meantime, Krein said the Midwest storm threat is over, at least for now: “Everything is quiet now.”

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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