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Equine care checklist: before and after the storm

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.

Preparing horses

  • 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.
      • Waterproof livestock paint or 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.

Preparing equipment

  • 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.

Check pastures

  • 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.

Record damages

  • 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. Or, view checklists on preparing property and equipment, preparing horses and recovery.