Horses and Tornado Preparedness by Dr. Rachel Bourne In the wake of the recent outbreak of tornados around the country and the path of devastation that has been caused because of these horrific storms, we would like to review some emergency preparedness tips for horse owners, to ensure that you and your horse are safe, should a tornado occur. One of the most important steps in keeping safe during severe weather such as a tornado is the proper preparation before the storm. Create (and practice) a plan in case a tornado or other natural disaster strikes – and be sure to determine who is in charge of each aspect of the plan. Additionally, make certain your plan includes both the safety of you and your animals. It is wise to purchase fetlock identification bands (these are available online or at a tack shop). You will need two bands for each horse on your property. These should be put on both front legs of the horse if you are under a tornado warning. Additionally, create an identification tag for each horse. The tag should include the horse’s name, and contact information for both you and your veterinarian. Affix the tag to the horse’s halter if a storm is approaching. Furthermore, purchase a marker that is safe to use on your animal (these can also be bought online or at a tack shop). If your farm is in the direct path of an on-coming storm, write identification information directly on the animal as a back-up in case the halter gets lost or damaged. You will also want to create an identification file that includes breed, sex, age, color, registration information, Coggins Test, photos, distinguishing features, and, if applicable, the microchip number of all horses on your property. This packet should be kept in a safe place, preferably off-site (this way you will have a safe file if your property becomes damaged). Always be sure you have an adequate water and food supply for your animals and check to make sure they are up-to-date on all their vaccinations. It is also vital to have a fully stocked first aid kit. One of the biggest hazards from tornados is flying debris, which can cause severe lacerations and other traumatic injuries. For more information on what to include in your first aid kit, check out our video on first aid kit essentials (http://youtu. be/9VYlmsabAdU). The first thought for human safety is to get indoors, however, this is not always the best course of action for horses. With all the loose items in a barn and the fact that these structures are often not as secure as a home, leaving your horse in its stall can be very dangerous. If the area surrounding your barn is wooded, or you have a structure specifically designed to withstand tornado or hurricane force winds, keeping your animal inside might be the best course of action. However, if your pasture is wide open, setting them free might be a better option. If your farm is large enough, your animals might be able to avoid the severe weather by simply relocating to another area of the property. Nevertheless, if you have a small farm, you might have to open the gates to allow the animal to leave the property. Once the storm has passed, assess your property and barn for damage and debris to ensure that it is a safe for your horse(s) and other animals. Take some time to inspect your horse to ensure that there are no serious injuries and contact your veterinarian, if needed. If your animal is unaccounted for, contact your local authorities with identification information. While we hope that these precautions are not necessary for you or your animal, being prepared is the best way to assure the health and safety of you, your family and your equine friends. If you have any additional questions about preparing your horse for tornados, please feel free to contact the Wisconsin Equine Clinic & Hospital at 262-569-1550 or via email at contactwec@wiequine.com. At Wisconsin Equine, it is all about the horse! “It’s all about the horse…” We strive to maximize the quality of life for our equine patients by providing compassionate care with the utmost attention to the individual needs of the horse and the clients we serve.” Wisconsin Equine Clinic and Hospital 39151 Delafield Road, Oconomowoc, WI 53066 www.wisconsinequineclinic.com 38 Issue 6 • 2015 www.PerformanceHorseDigest.com