August 2019 - Are You Prepared?

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Disaster planning for horse owners.

Horse owner preparedness is a 24/7, year-round requirement in California. The approach of National Preparedness Month in September is a good reminder to double check readiness for coping with wildfires, floods, mudslides and whatever else Mother Nature may throw our way.

Toward that end, here’s a good guide from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, one of several organizations to provide critical support during California’s recent disasters.

Ready Your Horses

  • Microchip your horse as a permanent form of identification—or if that’s not an option, identify your horse in some other way such as a tattoo. In an emergency, you can place an ID clip or braid a luggage tag in his mane or tail or paint your phone number on his side with non-toxic paint.
  • Get horses accustomed to wearing a halter.
  • Practicing loading onto a trailer under calm conditions so horses are on autopilot during an emergency.
  • Train the horse to be well-socialized and accustomed to being handled by strangers.
  • Consider asking off-duty fire fighters to interact with the horse in their turnout gear to desensitize horses to the look and smell of the gear.


Prevent On-Site Fires

  • Keep a clean and tidy stable and pasture, removing items from around the barn’s walkways, entrances and exits.
  • Regularly maintain and inspect barn floors and septic tanks.
  • Institute a no-smoking policy around the barn.
  • Avoid using appliances, even seemingly harmless ones like box fans, heaters and power tools, in the barn.


Test Your Trailer

  • Regularly inspect trailer and its tire pressure, brake battery, safety chains or cables.
  • Make sure your trailer has room for all your equines, including a place to tether them inside.


Create an Emergency Kit

  • Make a portable emergency kit that includes the following:
  • Tack checklist
  • Paperwork proving your ownership of your horse (branding papers, microchip registration, photos
  • Vet records, including a current Coggins test if you have it
  • Equine first aid kit that includes:
  • 7-10-day supply of feed and water
  • Clean buckets
  • Record of each horse’s diet
  • Record and two-week’s supply of each horse’s medication, including drug name, dose and frequency along with veterinarian and pharmacy contact information for refills
  • Antibiotic ointment (for wounds)
  • Antibiotic eye ointment
  • Cotton bandage rolls
  • Bandage scissors
  • Bandage tape
  • Elastic bandage rolls
  • Gauze pads and rolls
  • Non-adherent bandage pads
  • Cotton-tipped swabs
  • Betadine® (povidone-iodine) or Nolvassan® (chlorhexidine), scrub and solution
  • Isopropyl alcohol/alcohol prep pads
  • Eye rinse (sterile)
  • Heavy leather gloves
  • Twitch
  • Hoof pick
  • Knife (sharp, all-purpose)
  • Latex gloves or nonallergenic gloves
  • Saline solution (for rinsing wounds)
  • Sterile lubricant (water-based)
  • Thermometer (digital/stethoscope)
  • Tourniquets
  • Tweezers/hemostat


Locate a Temporary Caregiver

  • Contact your veterinarian for a list of preferred boarding facilities.
  • Ask friends and relatives outside your immediate area if they would be willing to take in your horse.


Plan Your Evacuation Route

  • Drive your route so you are comfortable knowing where to go.
  • Have at least two routes to your evacuation site in case of road closures.
  • Begin your transport as soon as authorities issue an evacuation of your area, if not before.


Collaborate With Neighbors

  • Set up a phone tree/buddy system with other nearby horse owners and local farms.
  • Team up with other horse owners to pool your resources, including sharing trailer space and hay.
  • Share your evacuation plans with your neighbors.


Article provided by the ASPCA. For more information, visit www.aspca.org.