Prepare For Emergency Evacuation With A Horse

As a horse owner, preparing for an emergency evacuation should be a part of your barn management strategy. There are several reasons you might need to evacuate your horses, including hurricanes, floods, fire, mudslides or other major disasters. Knowing what to do, making a good plan and having plenty of support will get your horses and you to a safe place quickly.


1. Make a plan. Have an overall plan devised for evacuation procedures. Assign different people for different tasks. For example, who will load the horses and who will hitch up the trailer and pack any last-minute items? Someone else needs to call 911 if the evacuation is due to fire or if a medical emergency occurs. Know who is getting the horses and loading them, who is driving and who makes any phone calls.

2. Decide where to go. Before you have to evacuate, know where you are going. If you must travel a far distance or on an unfamiliar highway, map out the route and have it handy. Most importantly, have a final destination place to take your horses to. In some cases, people use rescue shelters, and in others, they stay with friends, family members or other horse owners who are willing to take them in. The main thing is to know where the safe place is before the disaster happens. Find people who will take you and your horses in and then plan get there safely.

3. Pack an emergency medical kit. You probably have a medicine cabinet in your barn for everyday purposes. For an emergency evacuation, have a kit with these same items ready to take with you. Pack everything in sealing plastic bags and pack the bags into a metal tool box. Put the box in your truck.

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4. Carry your horse’s paperwork. Before you travel anywhere, be sure you have all the paperwork just like going to show. Shot records, registration papers and insurance binders need to be with you. Place everything in a sealing plastic bag.

5. Prepare the trailer. Check the brakes, lights, hitch and tires. Inside the trailer, make sure the flooring is good and there are either mats or shavings spread. Always pack an extra halter and lead rope for each horse. If it is cold, be sure to have extra blankets on hand. Shipping boots, tail wraps and head gear for the horses offer extra protection while they travel. In the event of extreme emergency, you may not be able to put on these items before you leave. However, you can store them in the trailer. During your first stop to check the horses, you can put them on.

6. Pack extra feed, hay, supplements and water. Load these items on the trailer. Have enough supply for at least one week, with two weeks being the ideal.

7. Prepare the truck. Make sure your truck is in working order with plenty of gas, fluids and a fresh oil change. Check the tires, brakes, emergency brakes and lights. If anything is not in proper working order, get it fixed. Pack the truck with any belongings you might need including extra blankets, a flashlight, emergency road flares, bottled water, snacks and any medicines you might need.

8. Buy custom tags for every horse. Have tags made that include your horse’s name, your name, address and phone number. Hang the tag securely on each halter. If your horse is separated from you and has his halter on, he can be identified.

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9. Monitor conditions. If you are watching an impending storm, wild fire or flood, monitor conditions closely. Keep the radio on or have someone watch a weather channel on television.