Prior Evacuations Help Louisiana Horses Weather Hurricane Ike

Despite high winds and heavy flooding, horses in Louisiana weathered Hurricane Ike's assault on the Gulf Coast with relative ease thanks to evacuation plans executed just weeks ago in advance of Hurricane Gustav.

"About 50 horses had to be moved to higher ground over the weekend because of flooding," said Rebecca McConnico, DVM, PhD, Dipl ACVIM, Equine Branch director for the Louisiana State Animal Response Team. "But most horses that were removed before Hurricane Gustav were still out of harm's way."

That was the case for Sandra Young, whose 20 Quarter Horses were already on higher ground last Friday when Hurricane Ike's storm surges inundated the Vermilion Parish, La., farm where they had been in training.

Cows seek refuge from flooding in Erath, La.

Cows seek higher ground after Hurricane Ike sideswipes Louisiana.

"They never had a chance to get back to the farm after Gustav," said Young, a Florida-based Quarter Horse breeder whose horses were in training with Hank Moss at his farm in Erath. "Now we're waiting for the waters to recede."

Even when they do, evacuated horses still might not return to their homes immediately.

"Many farms suffered excessive wind damage to barns and fences," said McConnico. "It's going to take a while get repairs done before some of these horses can come home."

In the meantime, Young is making arrangements to get her horses out of Louisiana altogether.

"My husband is in Louisiana now, and we're hoping to start getting our horses back here to Florida this week," she said. "Then we'll take some time to regroup."

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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