Emergency Preparedness for Horse Owners

     Life around the U.S. has it's up sides and down sides. Some of our most beautiful places can also have some of the most dangerous weather and nature related issues. When it comes to being prepared in an emergency, its one thing to have your family covered but what about your horses? There is roughly only 1% of our population in the US that has to worry about what to do with their horse(s) in the event of an emergency. Now more then ever though, people, community groups, and rescue groups have come together to help local horse owners when emergencies hit. Natural disasters seem to be on the rise, here are some ways to help your self to be more prepared in the even of an emergency or natural disaster.

 Are You Prepared?

  • Plan ahead of time, have escape/evacuate route and safe destination.

  • Dress for the weather

  • Ask for help if you need it

  • Make sure you are safe, its hard to rescue a horse let alone a horse and its owner.

  • Contact local, state and federal agency’s for information on emergency preparedness and local rescue groups.

  • Stock pile food and water in storage containers, at least a weeks worth.

  • Keeping a clean and cutter free barn with halters and leads with in easy reach of horse.

  • Make sure all equipment, trucks, trailers are in good repair.

  • Keeping copies of of vacation records, tattoos, microchips, ownership papers in a safe location separate from the original copies.

 Is Your Horse(s) Prepared?

  • Train your horse to get used to loading an unloading quickly, and haltering and moving quickly

  • Have evacuation routes planned with a few extra routes in case one is cut off

  • If evacuation is not possible, determine where your horse will be safest, in the barn, or pasture.

  • Keep up to date on vaccinations and coggins tests.

  • Leave copies of horses medical records and medications and feed amounts in a zip tight bag, in a easy to find location. Note: Do NOT leave coggins test as this is an easy way horses could be stolen.

  • Have your horse ID tagged, either with fetlock ID bands, microchips, freeze branding.

  • Place leather halter on horse, attach a luggage tag with your information

  • Braid one luggage tag into the horses tail(do not tie around horses tail)

  • If leaving horses place a large sign by your driveway stating how many animal are on property, ages, sexes, colors, so rescue workers can look for them.

  • Leave food and water behind in water tight containers in an easy to locate place.


After the Emergency


  • Be careful, do not enter flooded roads, be wary of electric lines and wires.

  • Have an emergency barn kit with things like chain saws, fuel, hammers and flash lights

  • Clean out any debris form the barn, and your driveway to the road.

  • In hard hit areas, some people make signs for simple communication with rescue and government.

  • Paint on two sided of a piece of plywood, one side “have animals, need help” the other, “have animals, ok for now”. This aides rescue workers to help the most needed first can be seen from aircraft helping to monitor the the area after the emergency.


     With these tips in mind you can safely prepare for the worst. One of the biggest parts of this is the “pre”. Take time out of your normal routine to go over and double check your emergency plan. Keep your family in on the plan and any changes that might occur. Many local community, especially horse community’s, organize a neighborhood disaster committee. This can bring together a large pool of resources in the event the worst happens. They can also provide resources like trailers, pastures or just and extra set of hands. Local and State agencies will also know rescue groups and have their own set of tips, rules and procedures in emergency situations. Keeping your family, self and animals safe is the goal of any person, remember to use common sense and stay safe!