Equine care checklist: before and after the storm with UF/IFAS Extension equine specialist, Carissa Wickens
Before the storm
Pasture vs. barn
- Depending on the shelter or structures available, horses are often best kept out at pasture during a storm.
- Keeping horses indoors is only recommended if you can confirm the structure was built to withstand hurricane-force winds. If structures are compromised in the storm, horses can be trapped inside which can lead to serious injury or death.
- If you are in a known flood zone or in threat of a flood, consider evacuating horses to an area you know will not flood.
Preparing the pasture
- Secure loose objects or remove them from pastures.
- Do not place horses in pastures with electric fence, barbed wire or power lines.
- Move animals to higher ground before a storm to keep them away from floods.
- Fit horses with fly masks to prevent eye injuries during the storm.
- Utilize identification collars or braid a dog tag into the horse’s mane that lists your contact information in the event horses are separated from you during the storm.
- Livestock chalk can be used to write information on the horse’s side as an alternative.
- Consider microchipping for a more permanent form of identification, which can be done by your veterinarian.
- Remove nylon or rope halters. If necessary, only use breakaway halters or a breakaway leather strap/neck collar.
Food and water supply
- Stock up on water. Keep 10 to 12 gallons per horse, per day in stock and prepare for a minimum of 72 hours, but a week supply is best.
- Line trash cans with plastic bags or use rain barrels to store water before the storm.
- Stock up on extra feed and hay before the storm to prepare for potential transportation or supply issues.
- Ensure you have enough forage to last at least 72 hours post-storm, but a week supply is best.
- Keep feed in a safe, dry place that will not be impacted during the storm.
First aid kit and health
- Gather items for a first aid kit that includes halters and lead ropes, a flashlight with extra batteries, clippers, fly spray, Phenylbutazone (Bute) and/or Banamine®, a thermometer, Chlorhexidine, or Betadine solution, bandage materials, duct tape, gloves and scissors.
- Make sure horses are up to date on all vaccinations and have a negative Coggins test in case you need to evacuate.
- Park horse trailers and tractors away from trees.
- Top off gas tanks in case you need extra fuel after the storm.
- Check tires and make sure trailers and equipment are in good working condition.
After the storm
Check animal condition
- Once the storm has passed, check animals for injury or illness.
- If a horse is missing, contact your local animal control office.
Food and water
- Ensure each horse has food and water.
- If you rely on well water and experienced any flooding, keep potential contamination issues in mind when you are refilling water troughs.
- Ensure food has not been soiled and is dry and free of mold.
- Make sure flooding has receded before reintroducing horses to the area.
- Check fence lines and the rest of the pasture for debris or any other damage that could cause injury.
- Document any damage to trucks, trailers, barns or other insured structures or equipment.
For more information, watch this Extension Disaster Education Network video on equine storm preparation.