When compared to rescuing a dog or cat, evacuating a horse can be much more difficult. A lot of horse owners don’t have a horse trailer, which can be a big issue in an emergency. If you don’t have a horse trailer, find someone before an emergency arises who will help transport your horse in case of emergency.
We are seeing that many city and rural communities are developing animal disaster plans. Check online or ask around your horse and animal friends if this is the case in your community, and then ask if any volunteers are willing to transport horses.
Ask if you can be added to a list of people who will require assistance with horse transport in the event of a disaster and if they have a plan for how to handle horses that need to be moved. You might have to ride your horse to a safe location if you can’t find a trailer. Be sure to exercise caution because there may be risks involved.
Here are some suggestions to make moving your horse safe for both of you when it’s time to evacuate:
- It takes time and effort to evacuate horses, especially if you have many animals to move, so move your horses as soon as possible. Do not wait until the last minute! Otherwise, you run the risk of having to leave the evacuated area and not being allowed to return to retrieve any remaining horses.
- Horses can sense when you are stressed. Try to maintain as much composure as you can to prevent the horses from panicking.
- Do not sedate a horse before you evacuate. A horse under anesthesia loses its innate ability to defend itself.
- The ability of a horse to smell smoke and become frightened can be diminished by applying a small amount of Vicks ointment to its nostrils.
- Since horses are herd animals, the others will follow the leader wherever he or she goes.
- Avoid areas with deep mud during floods as horses can become dangerously stuck in it.
- Horses are susceptible to being startled. Your horse might not recognize you if you’re in a flood wearing brightly colored rain gear. Desensitize your horse ahead of time by wearing your colorful rain gear before you are in evacuation mode.
- Before a disaster, get used to trailering your horse. The worst time to learn how to load a horse into a trailer is during an emergency.
In a disaster, common sense will be your best friend to assist in making sure that everyone makes it to a safe area.