Preparing your horses for a hurricane!

I live on the West Coast.  We have earthquakes but no hurricanes.  So, I’ve never really thought of how to prepare my horses for such an event.

Hurricane Matthew is all over the news and I wondered what those horse owners should be thinking about… so I spent some time researching and found a few very helpful sites.



As I was reading, I noted several wild horse herds that weathered Hurricanes just fine – as long as they could get to higher ground.  Where these horses live, there is no debris (except tree limbs) and no power lines.  It doesn’t flood on high ground.

So, preparing for flying debris, downed power lines and flooding seemed to be the biggest issues.

–Flying debris:  Your horse weighs enough to handle the storm winds, but they could easily be injured by anything that is flying in the air.  Objects can become projectiles at a high rate of speed.  Most equine injuries are from flying objects striking them.

So, pick up your area and your neighbor’s area.  Secure your windows and roofs.  Get some 55 gallon plastic garbage cans and fill them with clean water.  Seal the tops.  Get more plastic bins and store hay – or secure/cover your hay – and bin your grains.  Batten down the hatches.

–Power Lines:  If your horses are anywhere near powerlines, remove them horses in plenty of time.  Make sure you have access to a phone should the lines come down.  Of course, do not go near them.

–Flooding:  If you are in a flood area, arrange to have your horses brought to higher ground.  We all have seen what flooding does to horse’s skin.   Remember, flood waters are not clean waters.  They pick up whatever chemicals are along the way.  The quality of the water surrounding the horses is what injures, sickens or kills them.



Of course, the most important element for hurricane safety is preparedness.

Several websites have great information.



Below is a list from the town of Davie, Florida, linked here.

The Town of Davie is proud of its rural character and equestrian lifestyle.  Davie is home to thousands of horses and wants to help you keep them safe in the event of a HURRICANE!




(Before hurricane season)
(or NOW)


Yard/paddock cleanup – remove all debris that could become flying missiles in a windstorm
Strengthen barn – add hurricane straps to roof beams;  add screws to nailed joints
Stalls – extra sand on dirt floors (flooding); get rubber mats for concrete floors (your horse could be standing there for a long time
 Buy plywood and store for boarding up windows
 Buy 55 gallon garbage cans with lids for water storage – 10 gallons per day per horse – 1 week’s supply
 Buy extra water buckets – 3 per horse
 Buy and keep on hand large (55 gallon), heavy duty garbage bags for waterproof storage of hay and grain
 Prepare first aid kit – discuss with vet
 Make sure your horse has a current coggins & is up-to-date on all inoculations
 Horse trailers – plan a safe location for trailer storage; buy camper tie-downs and store
 Organize an individual evacuation plan for your horse – make arrangements with a friendly farm on higher ground; find a trailer buddy if you don’t have your own transport
 Practice loading your horse in a trailer
 Buy ankle ID bands and dog tags, engraved with your name, address, & a cell phone number or out of area number of a friend (the phone lines may be down)
Organize an emergency repair kit: chain saw & fuel, hammer, nails, screws, screwdrivers, spare fence boards & posts, etc.




 If you have not done some of the advanced preparation, do it now
 Buy 2 weeks supply of hay and grain; store inside in high & dry place; seal in garbage bags
 Fill up garbage cans (indoors – barn/garage) with water and fill all water troughs
 Put repair kit, first aid kit and coggins (your horse may not be rescued without it) in a secure place
 Move horse trailer to safe location and tie it down
 Put all tools & loose objects indoors
 Board up barn windows
 Braid dog tags to top of horse’s tail & attach ankle ID tag
 Put extra bedding in stall
 Fill water buckets – 3 per horse
 Give extra hay – at least 3 pads
 Administer tranquilizer in recommended doses in small amount of grain to horses confined indoors, if needed
 Turn off circuit breakers to barn




 Attend to horse’s medical needs first
 If the barn is flooded, evacuate your horse to higher ground – see back of leaflet for post hurricane evacuation sites
 Give hay and water as needed; no grain unless horse can be turned out
 Clear up debris to make access to road
 Make necessary repairs to barn & paddock area so that area is safe
 Do not turn on circuit breaker unless you are sure all electrical wiring is intact
 When your horse and barn is safe & secure, see if your neighbors need any help




 Tranquilizers – Ace granules can be given orally (30 minutes ahead of time) when calm
 Leg bandages – quilts & wraps for leg protection
 Wounds – elasticon/vet wrap/tape
 Gauze/cotton padding (diaper or sanitary pad)
 Antiseptic/antibiotic  ointment
 For swelling/pain – bute paste
 For colic – banamine paste
 Leave barn circuit breakers on during storm
 Don’t trailer a horse after the winds reach tropical storm force (40 mph)
   Don’t tranquilize horses left outside
   Don’t let your horse stand in water
   Don’t feed moldy hay or grain


No one can guarantee where your horse will be safe. The decision is yours. If you cannot make your property safe because of the condition of the barn, trees, power lines, low lying land prone to flooding, or general condition of the neighboring properties, plan on evacuating your horse at least 48 hours before the storm.


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Click image to go to the original article.

Click image to go to the original article.

Before The Storm

  • Have a disaster plan in place for your family, including your animals, and review and update it yearly.
  • Be sure your horse is current regarding vaccinations for tetanus and the encephalitis viruses (rabies, Eastern, Western, and West Nile).
  • Network a “plan” with the horse or farm animal-owning neighbors in your community (get to know your neighbors, plan a meeting, talk through different scenarios, and identify the local resources for dealing with disaster situations) and be prepared to help one another.
  • Know your parish emergency managers (e.g., Sheriff, Animal Control). They are in charge during a disaster.
  • Be sure that your horse has two forms of identification somewhere on his body: (1) Permanent identification, such as a microchip, tattoo, or brand; and (2) Luggage-type tag secured to the tail and halter (be sure to use a leather halter for break-away purposes). Fetlock tags are useful and can be acquired on-line or from a local farm supply store or you can use a paint stick or non-toxic spray paint. Be sure to place your name, address, and phone number (a phone number for someone out of state is best in the event of local phone outages) legibly on the tags.
  • Store the record for the microchip number (typically the Coggins form) in an accessible location. It’s also recommended to have a second copy of this information with a family member or friend in another location (i.e., out of state) but where it can be easily accessible.
  • Prepare a waterproof emergency animal care kit with all the items you normally use, including medications, salves or ointments, Vetrap, bandages, tape, etc. Place the kit in a safe place where you can easily access it after a storm.
  • Clean up your property before the threat of severe weather arrives. Remove all debris that could be tossed around by storm- and hurricane-force winds.


  • If you plan to evacuate in the event of a storm, have a destination and route(s) mapped out well in advance. It is important to evacuate your horses a sufficient distance from the coast.
  • Locate any large animal shelters in your state well in advance of an emergency; January to March would be good months to prepare this plan.
  • Try to leave a minimum of 72 hours before the arrival of the storm. The worst thing that can happen to you is to get stuck in traffic with a trailer full of horses and a hurricane approaching. Provide your neighbors with your evacuation contact information.

Weathering The Storm

  • The choice of keeping your horse in a barn or an open field is up to you. Use common sense, taking into consideration barn structure, trees, power lines, condition of surrounding properties, and the likelihood of the property and structure to flood. Horses on farms subject to storm surge or flash flooding should be turned out so they don’t become trapped or drown.
  • Remove all items from the barn aisle and walls, and store them in a safe place.
  • Have at least a two- to three-week supply of hay (wrapped in plastic or a waterproof tarp) and feed (stored in plastic water-tight containers). Place these supplies in the highest (out of reach of flood waters) and driest area possible.
  • Fill clean plastic garbage cans with water, secure the tops, and place them in the barn for use after the storm.
  • Have an emergency barn kit containing a chain saw and fuel, hammer(s), saw, nails, screws, and fencing materials. Place this kit in a secure area before the storm hits so that it is easily accessible after the storm.
  • Be sure to have an ample supply of flashlights and batteries and other non-perishable items.
  • Listen to local radio stations in your area. If Internet access is available, access state-run websites that contain accurate status information (i.e., State Police, State University, State Deptartment of Agriculture), and take all cautions/warning seriously and act accordingly.

After The Storm

  • Start early to clean up your property and remove all debris that might have been tossed around by storm and hurricane force winds. Be careful of downed power lines that might be “live” and represent a danger to people and animals.

Visit the Louisiana State Animal Response Team website for more detailed information regarding horse hurricane preparations and other emergency and health-related information.


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Only one comment so far...

  1. Sue Seidlitz

    The ManeStay (reviewed here recently) is an excellent way to safely, securely and quickly attach your contact information to your horse’s mane. While fetlock bands are widely used, their downside is being close to the ground, where they may catch on debris . . . and in the case of flood, would likely not be seen at all. In the case of fire, a fetlock band is dangerously close to embers on the ground. ManeStay’s attachment to the mane means it’s high enough on the horse to be visible, and it doesn’t require a potentially dangerous halter to anchor it to the horse. Its bright yellow color is easily spotted by first responders who will find emergency contact info inside the ManeStay’s I.C.E. form.

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