Weather can often be dangerous and unpredictable, creating a horse owner’s greatest fear: risking the safety of their horses. So, what can we do to help protect your barn and horses before a storm hits? It’s often a hard choice for horse owners to decide if they should evacuate or ride it out, no pun intended. Fight or flight is instinctive within all living creatures, but for humans, a sometimes-difficult decision with so many variables to consider.
Hurricanes can have wind speeds of 74 mph or higher. This kind of wind can damage anything, from walls and windows to fences. Hurricanes take form over water, so when it reaches land it brings a wall of water called a storm surge. Before any storm or hurricane is imminent, horse owners should stormproof their barn and surrounding property. Hurricanes should always be taken seriously, regardless of if the weatherman says it won’t reach shore. It is better to be safe than sorry.
When in preparation for a hurricane or large storm, make sure all loose debris around your property is properly secured to ensure your barn and horse’s safety. Walk your property to check for anything that needs to be removed, replaced, or repaired. Some things might not seem necessary to worry about, but in a high wind storm, a small object such as a grooming brush could cause serious damage to someone or something. Put your tack, grooming supplies, mounting blocks, or anything else that is small and valuable into your tack room or in a stall to prevent the chances of it getting lost or turning into a deadly projectile.
When transportation is not possible to move your horses away from the area, it is safer to turn your horse(s) out into a field or any open space that does not have a roof which has a chance of collapsing. Opening barn doors and windows during high winds can lessen severe structural damage. If possible, make certain to secure any fencing and/or gates beforehand to prevent your horse(s) from escaping during the storm. This can potentially save you stress once the storm passes.
If you live in an area that constantly gets hurricanes, you may even want to consider building an above ground storm shelter for your horses. This is quite possibly the best option to keeping your horses safe and sound in a barn setting. Here at Sterling-Equine, we are able to help you plan out and design your safe barn. We have a variety of custom stall options to help ensure your horses safety.
If you are planning on turning your horses loose, you will want to have identification (ID) for your horses. There are many ways to ID your horses. Two ways to ID your horse(s) are photographing or videoing the horses that you release, or braiding a strand of their mane while attaching a tube with your contact information. Prior to hurricane season if you have the land and the time you can also create a hill by piling on mounds of dirt or sand for your horses to seek shelter on from a hurricane, this allows them the chance to get to elevated land when there is flooding.
Additionally, water and food are critical after a storm. Water deposited after a storm can become contaminated rather quickly. Be certain to have water troughs, containers, tanks, or any other holding device filled before an incoming storm for your livestock. Food, such as hay, oats, and supplements need to be kept as dry as possible.
Ultimately, the more prepared you are the better. Preparation potentially lessens your worries and the overall impact of devastating damage to your home, barn, and horses.