Horses & Hurricanes

— Written By Katie Carter
en Español

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It’s summer time, time for swimsuits, cold drinks, and cookouts! It’s also time to get a disaster plan ready for your horses. With the warm weather, brings the start of hurricane season in Eastern North Carolina and there are few things that you can do to make sure that your horses are ready for any upcoming bad weather. These few simple things can make the difference for a loose horse making it safely back to its owner or getting seriously injured or lost during a storm.

Starting with something simple, such as marking your horse’s hooves, can help return a lost horse. With a permanent marker on the front right hoof write your name and horse’s name. On the left hoof write your address and phone number that you can easily be reached. If your horse has light colored hooves then a black permanent marker will suffice, but if your horse has dark hooves, a silver metallic color permanent marker will show up fine. After names, address, and phone number has been written on the hooves, paint over everything with clear fingernail polish. Multiple coats, this will help protect the writing from getting rubbed off in standing water or a lot of traveling through brush and other debris that falls during storms.

We all know that fences are very important to keep our much-loved horses in, but when was the last time that you truly looked over your fence line? Most people don’t know there is a weak place in their fence till they’re chasing their horse down the lane. Before a storm hits it’s important to check fences and replace any weak areas. If you have board fences, replace boards that are broke or reinforce weak boards with a few extra nails or screws. If you use hot-wire, make sure that the circuit flows strong through all the lines. If you use power to keep your hot wire hot, it’s a good idea to have a backup plan for when the power goes out. Using a solar charger is a good idea, it saves energy usage and keeps wires hot even if the power goes out. All of this applies to any shelters that the horses have access to during a storm. Make sure that the shelter is safe for the horses to be under or in during the duration of a storm.

Let’s say that your fences and shelter do their job during a storm but now you’re hit with a situation that you can’t leave to get feed or hay for your horses. It’s very important that you have enough feed to last your horse a few weeks. Many owners, myself included wait till we’re down to the last bag of feed before we go get more feed. During hurricane season it’s a good idea to always have weeks’ worth of feed available. You never know how much damage there will be after a storm and you don’t want to be left unprepared with nothing to feed your horses.

Something that most horse owners don’t think about is where to take their horses if there is damage on their property. One of the last things you can do to be prepared for a storm and its possible destruction is to have a place that you can take your horse after the storm if needed. If your fence was damaged or your pastures were flooded, it’s good to have a friend or boarding facility to take your horse till fences can be repaired or pastures can drain. This ensures your horse’s safety while you get things back in order. Know multiple routes to get from point A to point B just in case there are road closures.

These are just a few things that horse owners can do to be prepared for hurricane season. It’s important to enjoy all that summer has to offer but it’s also important to be informed and ready for what is in store. Taking these steps and others will allow you to be ready for whatever a storm throws at you and your horse. Stay safe and be prepared!