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Major Storm Preparation Tips for Horse Owners

As I make my own hurricane preparations for the thirteen horses under my care and protection (don't panic, she says to her spouse, only seven of those are actually owned by the Horse Girl), it strikes me that some of the precautions I'm taking would be of value to the many daily visitors of QueryHorse. For horse owners with horses generally kept outside during the summer months, when strong winds of a major storm like a hurricane blow, there are serious concerns for the safety of those horses.

  • Fencing
    First, fencing during a hurricane is the first casualty. Trees and tree limbs fall and the fences go down. Horses kept outside during strong winds are thus at risk for getting loose as well as panicking during the height of the storm, with maximum danger for all concerned, including the horses, passing motorists, and emergency vehicles.
  • Wind Driven Debris
    Second, flying debris is a serious concern. During a blow, horses will huddle together or in whatever shelter they can find. But even in a shelter, there is a risk of flying shards of glass, splinters, and other blown objects that can seriously harm them. Therefore, the moral of this story is tp find a sturdy barn to shelter your horses for the duration of the storm, and perhaps even during the cleanup afterwards so the horses don't get into danger from some of the debris (sharp objects, live electrical wires, etc). Unfortunately, a run in shed is insufficient protection during very strong winds.
  • Barn Structural Strength and Location
    Third, do consider the barn's safety as a structure. If you're boarding at a run-down facility in a flood zone, you're asking for lots of trouble. Now, though I see the elected officials of various states calling for the evacuation of people, I do not see any similar effort being made on behalf of the livestock in the area. In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, thousands of animals and livestock, including horses, were killed or injured in the wake of the storm. So, if you have a horse kept in a facility that is at risk for flooding, or because of its structure being weak or in some manner inadequate, or the location itself appears at risk to you (e.g. near a river that could swell, near property with dangerous loose debris, or near a stand of weak/dead trees), it would be well worth moving your horse away and perhaps further inland for a time.
  • Plan Ahead
    If you do have a strong barn, and your horse is indoors, consider filling it with extra supplies of grain/feed, bedding, and hay, because if the supply chain is affected, it may be a while before your local feed stores receives a delivery.

For a posting next week, I'll discuss the topic of what you can expect to recover from insurance companies and public funds in the event of a disaster.

God bless, one and all!

Kathleen A. Reagan, Esq. is an equine attorney practicing in Braintree, MA, available at www.kathleenreaganlaw.com, has developed a course in equine law at www.concordlawschool.com, and is co-founder and Vice President of QueryHorse, the largest horse information resource on the Internet.

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