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Equine Emergency in Florida

First Reaction to Crisis

horse with phone number painted on its side

Current Information

Equine emergency in Florida. Keeping your horse safe during an emergency can be very stressful if you don't have a plan. Be sure you are accessing current information when making preparations. Accordingly, this page will be updated as necessary throughout the season. A safe horse during a hurricane, tornado, flooding, or wild fire event means having a plan before the event happens.

Hurricane Preparation

It can be really difficult to keep your horses safe during a hurricane. Clearly, the best way forward is prepare an advance plan where horses can easily be moved to a place of safety before the storm hits. This is assuming that you will have enough notice and you can act early. Many people get caught up in large traffic jams while trying to evacuate when it is too late.

Wild Fires in Florida

Florida's wild fire season is in the months before and after the hurricane season. Obviously wild fires present a unique horror for horses and their owners and sound evacuation plan is needed. Always monitor fire hazards in your part of state and be prepared to evacuate well ahead of the threat.

Red Cross Emergency Checklist

The next time disaster strikes, you may not have much time to act. Prepare now for a sudden emergency. Learn how to protect yourself and cope with disaster by planning ahead. This checklist will help you get started. Discuss these ideas with your family, then prepare an emergency plan. Post the plan where everyone will see it—on the refrigerator or bulletin board.

American Association of Equine Professional Checklist

Here is a horse specific emergency checklist that includes additional information about horse emergencies.

Florida Evacuation Resource and Maps

Here is an excellent source of information that includes relocation search, storm resources, and evacuation information for your location.

Facebook Group with posts from Florida horse barns and others willing to take horses during evacuation. Do your own due diligence. (6) Florida Equine Evacuation Locations | Facebook

Planning Ahead - A complete guide from UF

Update your evacuation plans each Spring, ahead of the hurricane season which begins in June. If you have an evacuation site from last year, check to make sure it is still available for this year. If you don't have an evacuation site, now is the time to start researching possibilities and making arrangements.

Also, have your horse trailer and towing vehicle checked out in the Spring so there are no surprises when you need them. That means tires are sound and electrical systems are working. And of course your tow vehicle is filled with gas days ahead of time.

Horse Farm Disaster Planning

This is an excellent resource that includes a checklist of things to do and things to have ready before the hurricane season begins. It is much easier and more thorough when you prepare ahead of time, before the stress of an impending disaster.

Evacuating Other Pets

When leaving your property due to impending flooding or fire, take your pets with you. Leaving pets behind is cruel and may result in unnecessary suffering or death. Prepare for such a contingency by having a pet kit with food, water, medications, carriers, collars, and leashes. Many shelters and hotels accept pets but check before going.

Equine First Aid Kit

Have an emergency equine first aid kit on the ready. This kit can serve both horse and caretaker. You can assemble what you need and keep it in a water proof container or purchase a ready made first aid kit. Be sure to examine the contents each year and replace any expired products.

Offering practical peace of mind to equine enthusiasts, the Curicyn Equine Triage First Aid Kit is a portable, easy-to-use equine first-aid kit you can keep in your vehicle, trailer or with your saddle in case of emergency. This comprehensive kit includes many necessary first aid items to use for minor and severe injuries when your neighing neighbor is hurt. Keep this kit handy whenever you’re spending time with your special hoofed buddy and be prepared for any unexpected emergencies.

Avoid Last Minute Moving

Definitely avoid last minute moving which could be far more dangerous than not moving at all. Not only will evacuation routes have heavy traffic, potentially you could get trapped by the approaching storm. Horse trailers and high winds do not mix well and a serious accident could result.

May be Safer at Home

With the proper facilities it could prove safer to leave your horses at home. The only adequate protection, if you intend to keep them inside, is a building sited on high ground, made from hurricane reinforced concrete and with storm shuttered windows and no trees around it. Any other type of building is literally a potential death trap.

Alternatively, horse can be left outside. It is important that the pasture has both high and low areas. The higher parts can provide a sanctuary if the lower areas become flooded. Lower areas can offer some protection from high winds. Shallow ponds can sometimes be a source of protection but be wary of snakes or alligators which may also be seeking shelter.

Avoid barb wire pastures

Never leave horses in pasture which is fenced with barbed wire. If they run into it, the resulting injuries can be horrific. Similarly, so can any insecure object, even small buildings which are not firmly restrained. Other problems to watch out for are overhead power lines (for obvious reasons) and trees with shallow roots, especially oak and elm.

Horse Identification

In the event that your horses break free, they should all have identification. Ideally, a permanent ID in the form of a hot brand, freeze mark, lip tattoo or microchip. You must also ensure that your contact details are up to date with the relevant company`s database. Secondly, a `fact sheet` tag, which should include the horse`s name and brief description plus your name, address and contact details. This can be placed in a waterproof luggage label and braided into a horse`s mane or tail or attached to a halter.

Try to memorize tattoo or brand numbers and always make sure that any paperwork that identifies your horses is kept safe, preferably with you. Even things as simple as photographs of you with your horses could help to identify them if they go astray or become the victims of an attempted theft.

Online Help for Horse Problems

There are several recognized online help centers available for those frequently beset by severe weather issues. A recently formed group has contacted landowners, including racecourses, which could have suitable permanent structures and who may be willing or able to offer temporary accommodation to horses (and people) in danger.

Florida Horse Evacuation Sites

In Florida, Gulfstream Park Race Course, Hallandale, World Equestrian Center, Ocala, Southeast Livestock Pavilion, Ocala and Florida State Fairgrounds, Tampa have offered emergency housing in the past. Importantly, be sure to contact the facilities before trying to go there.

It would be well worth contacting your local branch to see if they are able to help in an emergency and are included in one of these schemes. You should also try contacting any potential (trustworthy) barns yourself.

There could even be advantages in the long run; it is always good to build relationships with other horse owners and boarding barns.

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