Safety Tips for Evacuating a Horse

Evacuating a horse can be a lot more challenging then getting a dog or cat to safety.  Unfortunately, many people who own horses do not have a horse trailer, which can be a serious problem when in the midst of a disaster.  If you don’t have a horse trailer, do some research ahead of time to see if you can locate someone willing to help transport your horse in case of disaster. 

More and more communities now have disaster plans for animals.  Check to see if your community does and if so, inquire about volunteers willing to transport horses.  If they have a plan for horses that need transport, see if you can get your name on a list of those who will need help with horse transport in a disaster.  If you can’t locate a trailer, then you may have to ride your horse to a safe location.  There can be dangers in doing this though, so be sure to take precautions.

When it comes time to evacuate, here are some tips to make moving your horse safe for both of you:

  • Move your horses early!  It is difficult to evacuate horses, and it will take time, especially if you have lots of horses to move.  Do not wait until the last minute because you are taking the risk of leaving the evacuated area and then not being allowed back in to collect any remaining horses.
  • Horses can sense when you are stressed, so try to remain as calm as possible, to help ensure that the horses do not panic. 
  • It is not advisable to sedate a horse before you get ready to evacuate.  A sedated horse loses it natural instinct to protect itself. 
  • A little Vicks ointment in a horse’s nostrils can reduce the horse’s ability to smell smoke and get spooked.
  • Horses are herd animals, so wherever the lead horse goes, the others will follow. 
  • In a flood, deep mud can be very dangerous for horses if they get stuck in it, so avoid such an area.
  • Horses can be easily spooked.  In a flood you may be wearing bright colored rain gear and your horse may not recognize you.  Before a disaster strikes, put on the rain gear you will more than likely be wearing so your horse gets used to seeing you dressed this way.
  • Practice trailering your horse prior to a disaster.  In the midst of a crisis is not the time to try and get your horse into a trailer for the first time.

Common sense will be your best ally in a disaster, helping to ensure that everyone reaches a safe location.