Hurricane and Emergency Preparedness for Horse Owners

Editor's Note: This information was provided to The Horse by the Louisiana Horseman's Guide--this is information that has been compiled for Louisiana horse owners. Find more information on hurricane and disaster preparation at

The time to prepare for a hurricane is well before you need to move out of its path. When a hurricane is threatening your area, the first order of priority is to save human lives. With proper preparation and planning we can save our horses' lives.

  1. Documents--You will need a current negative Coggins test on each horse you plan to move to a safer location. (If you plan to take your horse to another state for shelter, you may be required to have a recent medical certificate. Check with the state in which you are planning to seek shelter.) You should also have a copy of each horse's medical history including your veterinarian's contact information,and a signed permission for emergency treatment that goes with the horse. You
    can set the maximum you are willing to pay without personal notification, but if you don't sign an approval for emergency treatment it could cost you your horse.
  2. Medication--If you horse requires special medications or must be sedated for hauling, have these supplies on-hand and send them with the horse.
  3. Identification--Each horse must have either a microchip for identification, tattoo, brand, or an identification band that can be affixed to the horse. Of all of these the best means of identifying a specific horse and tracking the owner is the microchip. It doesn't cost much and is a highly effective means of identification. If there isn't time to insert a microchip, tattoo or brand your horse, and you can use clippers to clip your phone number on the horse's back or braid luggage tags with you contact information into the horse's mane.
  4. Emergency Boarding--Make arrangements with boarding facilities at points as far north in the state as possible but no further south than the Alexandria line. Make sure that you notify the facility if your horse is a stud or a mare in heat
  5. Tack--All horses should be shipped with their own halter and lead ropes. (Halters can carry disease so make certain that the halter is clean and that it was not used on a sick animal.) Do not saddle horses prior to shipping.
  6. Trailer--Check your trailer to make certain that it is safe to transport horses. Check the floor, the tires, the brakes and the lights to make certain they are in working order. Plan to move your horses while the storm is at least 4 days away.
    Once the governor calls for mandatory evacuation, no commercial vehicles or horse trailers are allowed on evacuation routes.
  7. Truck--Check to make sure your truck is ready to pull the trailer. Check the hitch to make sure it is secure and in proper working order. Make sure that you have a full tank of gas. DO NOT carry full gas cans in your horse trailer.
  8. Commercial Haulers--If you plan to use a commercial hauler, you must arrange to have them pick the horse up well in advance of mandatory evacuation. Once the governor calls for mandatory evacuation, no commercial vehicles or horse
    trailers are allowed on evacuation routes.
  9. Interstate transportation--If you move your horse via I-55, you should not try to house your horse in Mississippi. They have horses of their own that for which they are trying to provide safer shelter. Once you enter Mississippi, you will have to go north to I-20 in Jackson, then head west back into Louisiana to find temporary shelter for your horse or show proof that you are transporting your horse to Tennessee, Arkansas, or other states farther north.
  10. Location--Ideally you should send your horse as far from the shoreline and major wind impact as possible. This will vary state to state and city to city. Check with the proper authorities in your area to make sure.
  11. Feed--Pack enough feed and hay to last each horse you are shipping at least one week and send it with them.
  12. Prioritize--If you have a trailer that does not have the capacity to transport all of your horses, decide NOW which horses you are going to transport first. Plan so that you have plenty of time to make necessary round trips long before mandatory evacuations are ordered.
  13. Emergency Fencing--Purchase several rolls of orange plastic wind/construction fencing. If your horses are used to being fenced, this fencing will contain them until any damaged fencing can be repaired. It can be put in place with a staple gun and trees or wooden fence posts.
  14. Barn/Stable Preparation--store all lose items, jump standards, jump cups, crossrails, arena letters, bleachers, furniture etc. inside the barn or storage area so that these items do not become dangerous projectiles in high winds. Secure any loose roofing materials. Secure all gates. Clear items not permanently and securely attached from all barn aisles and walls and store them in a safe places.
  15. Signs--Make signs with a full 4'X 8' sheet of wood or a king size flat sheet – on using large letters and dark paint spray paint "HAVE ANIMALS, NEED HELP." On the other side of paint, "HAVE ANIMALS, AM OK FOR NOW." Store the
    signs in a safe place until after the storm.
  16. Horses that remain in place--If you cannot move your horses and are in an area prone to flooding or severe wind damage, leave your horses in a covered area but DO NOT close the doors or gates. If water begins to rise and the horses are
    trapped in their stalls, they will drown. They must be able to get out and move to higher ground. If you must bar their exit, use bailing twine or something else that will break easily or that the horses can move out of their way without being
    injured. Make sure that the horses have access to plenty of safe water and food as it may take up to a week or more for you to get back to them. If you leave horses outside, move them to a location free of power lines and other potentially hazardous conditions.
  17. Emergency supplies--You should have a supply of topical antiseptics, gauze pads, vet wrap, etc. You should also have access to feed and hay in the event that the storm wipes out your barn and feed room. Wrap hay securely in water proof
    tarps or plastic. Store feed in tightly sealed water tight containers. Move wrapped hay and containers of feed to the highest spot possible. Do not use feed or hay that has been submersed in flood waters. Fill clean plastic garbage cans with water and cover tightly and store in a safe place. It may be several days after the storm before water is available and safe.
  18. Emergency Barn Kit--put together a chainsaw and fuel, hammers, nails, screws, fencing materials, fire ant killer,and a saw. Place this kit in a secure area before the storm hits.
  19. Secure--all vehicles, trailers and maintenance equipment with camper tie downs.
  20. Fire Prevention--Turn off circuit breakers to the barn before leaving. A power surge could cause sparks and fire.
  21. Protect yourself--If mandatory evacuations are posted for your area and you cannot transport your horse to safer ground DO NOT STAY BEHIND with your horses. Do the best you can for the animals and get out safely.
  22. Follow up--If you horse has been transported to an emergency boarding facility, call and verify that your horse was received and make sure you have all contact information for the facility.
  23. Further Information--When under a hurricane threat, contact your local office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Civil Defense, or state veterinarian's office to find out more information about options for livestock in
    your area.

After the storm is over:

  1. Going Outside--Be very careful live electric wires could be all around you. Locate your animals and tend to any minor wounds. Check fencing and put up emergency fencing where needed. Carefully try to clean debris from the barn, and clear the driveway out to the road.
  2. Check stalls to make sure that they are clear of debris, water and snakes before putting your horses back in them. DO NOT put your hands in crevices into which you cannot see, as snakes could be hiding in them.
  3. Signs--Place one of the signs at the edge of your driveway, at the roadside, with the appropriate writing facing the road. Place the other sign in a clear area that is visible from the air so that aircraft flying overhead will be able to see it to determine if you need help. If you do not have a severely injured animal, put the OK sign up. In either case, help will get to you as soon as possible.
  4. Fire ants and snakes--Ants and snakes will look for the driest place to nest and will move from wet to high ground when their nests flood. Check your barn/stall walls and feed/hay areas. Ants will also seek refuge from wet ground on fence
    rails and tree branches, so take care when clearing debris after a storm. Do not put your hands or feet in recesses into which you cannot see. Snakes will also hide between hay bales and banked shavings.
  5. Neighbors--Once your horses are secure and taken care of, check on your neighbors.
Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from Learn More