With Proper Preparation and Planning We Can Save the Lives of Our Horses
Our thanx to Lanier Cordell and the Louisiana State Veterinarian's office on emergency planning for this timely info.
Download a sample medical history and permission form for emergency treatment. All horse owners should send this completed form with their horses when they are being transported to safety.
The time to prepare is well before you need to move out of the path of a hurricane. When a hurricane is threatening your area, the first order of priority is to save human lives. With proper preparation and planning we can save the lives of our horses.
You will need a current negative Coggins on each horse you plan to move to a safer location. (If you plan to take your horse to another state for shelter, you may be required to have a recent medical certificate. Check with the state in which you are planning to seek shelter.) You should also have a copy of each horse's medical history including your veterinarian's contact information, and a signed permission for emergency treatment that goes with the horse. You can set the maximum you are willing to pay without personal notification, but if you don't sign an approval for emergency treatment it could cost you your horse.
If you horse requires special medications or must be sedated for hauling, have these supplies on hand and send them with the horse.
Each horse must have either a micro-chip for identification, a tattoo or a brand. Of all of these the best means of identifying a specific horse and tracking the owner is the micro-ship. It is a low cost and highly effective means of identification.
Make arrangements with boarding facilities at points as far north in the state as possible but no further south than the Alexandria line. Make sure that you notify the facility if your horse is a stud or a mare in heat.
All horses should be shipped with their own halter and lead ropes. (Halters can carry disease so make certain that the halter is clean and that it was not used on a sick animal.) Do not saddle horses prior to shipping.
Check your trailer to make certain that it is safe to transport horses. Check the floor, tires, spare tire, brakes and lights to make certain they are in working order. Make sure you have a jack and lug wrench that fit the trailer. Plan to move your horses while the storm is at least 4 days away. Once the governor calls for mandatory evacuation, no commercial vehicles or horse trailers are allowed on evacuation routes.
Check to make sure your truck is ready to pull the trailer. Check the hitch to make sure it is secure and in proper working order. Make sure that you have a full tank of gas. DO NOT carry full gas cans in your horse trailer.
If you plan to use a commercial hauler, you must arrange to have them pick the horse up well in advance of mandatory evacuation. Once the governor calls for mandatory evacuation, no commercial vehicles or horse trailers are allowed on evacuation routes.
If you move your horse into other states, check in advance to see what the requirements are and verify that you have a specific place that is going to provide safe shelter for your horse. Don't wait until you get there to start looking.
Ideally you should send your horse as far from the shoreline as possible and out of areas prone to flooding. While the locations vary state to state and city to city, in most Gulf-coast states north of I-10 is the very minimum you should move your horse. In Louisiana, those horses residing south of Lake Pontchartrain should be moved at least above Interstate 12.
Pack enough feed and hay to last horses for at least one week and send it with them.
If you only have a trailer that does not have the capacity to transport all of your horses, decide NOW which horses you are going to transport first. Plan so that you have plenty of time to make necessary round trips long before mandatory evacuations are ordered.
Purchase several rolls of orange plastic wind/construction fencing. If your horses are used to being fenced, this fencing will contain them until any damaged fencing can be repaired. It can be put in place with a staple gun and trees or wooden fence posts.
Store all lose items and furniture inside the barn or storage area so that these items do not become dangerous projectiles in high winds. Secure any loose roofing materials. Secure all gates.
Horses that Remain in Place
If you cannot move your horse and are in an area prone to flooding, or severe wind damage leave your horses in a covered area but DO NOT close the doors or gates. If water begins to rise and the horses are trapped in their stalls, they will drown. They must be able to get out and move to higher ground. If you must bar their exit, use bailing twine or something else that will break easily or that the horse can move out of his way without being injured. Make sure that the horse has access to plenty of safe water and food as it may take up to a week or more for you to get back to him.
You should have a supply of topical antiseptics, gauze pads, vet wrap etc. You should also have access to feed and hay in the event that the storm wipes out your barn and feed room. Do not use feed or hay that has been in floodwaters.
If mandatory evacuations are posted for your area and you cannot transport your horse to safer ground DO NOT STAY BEHIND with your horses. Do the best you can for the animals and get out safely.
If you horse has been transported to an emergency boarding facility, call and verify that your horse was received and make sure you have all of their contact information.
When a hurricane is threatening, contact your local office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Civil Defense or state veterinarian's office to find out more information about options for livestock in your area.