Hurricane season with horses: stay or evacuate?
One of the biggest decisions for horse owners is how best to keep their horses safe in the event of a hurricane.
Step one is deciding whether you are going to evacuate with your horses or weather the storm in place.
In general, horses are safer in a pasture than inside of a barn or other building during a hurricane.
If your pasture meets all five of these criteria, it is safer to keep your horses on pasture than to evacuate them:
- No non-native trees in the pasture – many non-native trees have shallow root systems and over-turn easily in high winds. If you are unsure if trees in your pasture are native or non-native, get in touch with your local UF/IFAS Extension Office.
- No overhead powerlines or poles in or next to the pasture that could fall into the pasture
- No debris in or near the pasture that can blow into the pasture
- No barbed wire fencing – horses can become entangled
- At least one acre in size so your horses have enough room to flee from blowing debris
If your pasture does not meet all the criteria, it may be safer to evacuate your horses. If you decide to evacuate, remember that it is very unsafe to haul a trailer when wind gusts are above 40mph. This means you will need to evacuate a minimum of 48 hours before hurricane force winds are expected to start in your area.
If you plan to travel out of state, you will need a health certificate and negative Coggins test results for each horse, as well as up-to-date vaccines.
Whether you decide to evacuate or stay in place, it is a good idea to check with your vet about booster shots for mosquito-born illnesses, tetanus, and rabies.