Many preparations should already be part of a horse owner’s normal routine. Regular maintenance of fence around pasture keeps horses safe at all times. All horse owners need to keep vaccinations and Coggins tests current for good health as well as for evacuation travel purposes.
If you are in a known evacuation area or plan to evacuate regardless, your preparation will require advance planning. First, be sure to identify 1 or 2 geographically different areas (with friends or family) where you can evacuate with your horse(s). You should evacuate no later than 72 hours ahead of anticipated landfall. Be sure your truck and trailer are up-to-date on maintenance; otherwise, secure transportation in advance. Make sure your horse’s vaccinations and Coggins tests are up-to-date. Purchase at least 3 days of hay and feed to haul with you to the evacuation destination.
If you are not required to evacuate and have the ability to shelter in place, your advance preparation will be focused on maintaining fence, removing dead or dying trees (especially on fence line), keeping vaccinations and Coggins tests up-to-date. Make sure your barn roofing material is fastened well and anything in the pasture is removed; all of these can become flying debris. Having your horse properly identified is necessary should they get out of their pasture. Waterproof paint, markers and livestock grease pencils can be used to write your information directly on the horse. Heavy plastic livestock tags can be braided into the mane or top of the tail or attached to halters. Include your name, address and phone number on the tag with waterproof marker. Additionally, take multiple pictures of your horse(s) should you need to prove ownership later. Purchase feed and hay and fill water tubs to last at least 5 days. When the storm hits, it is best to leave the horse out in the pasture and not stalled in a barn. Barns can collapse. Also, avoid putting them in a pasture with power lines because electrocution is one of the primary causes of death for horses. Horses are quite susceptible to disease and illness when consuming spoiled feed; additionally, flood water and the eventual stagnant water left behind can also make horses ill. Fresh feed and water are very important.
You can find information at the FDACS website link below:
If you would like more information on disaster preparation for horse owners, please contact Laura Bennett, Multi-County Livestock Agent at the UF/IFAS Pasco, Sumter, Hernando County Extension Office at 352-518-0156.