Emergency planning for horses
In the 2023 animal welfare seminar “Quit horsing away: advancing the welfare of horses in Australia to improve the welfare of horses in Australia’ scheduled in the near future (22/23 February. The registration fee is free! ), Horse welfare is at the forefront of minds here in the RSPCA.
If you have horses, an important aspect of horse care is planning for emergencies. For a lot of Australians, the past few years have revealed the importance of preparing for an emergency or a disaster. If you own an animal, it’s vital to have a plan for an emergency in place for the horses (and all other pets).
Our animals, which includes horses, depend on us 100%. Therefore, we must plan for them to ensure that they are at the highest risk of being safely evacuated should an emergency occur. Learn more here on what to add to your plan for emergencies and the best way to prepare. This is a general guideline only, and specific preparations depend on your particular animal or horse as well as your circumstances.
Preparation is key
Making a pet’s emergency kit is an important component of the planning process. This will ensure that you have all the items you require to implement your plan swiftly.
Before you start planning your emergency plan, it is a good idea to begin by studying disasters that have occurred in the past and also identifying any other disasters that could strike in the near future. Also, you can check the trigger levels for each event that triggers to activate your plan (e.g., the fire danger scores or flooding height forecasts).
It is also essential to find and plan an evacuation site outside your immediate area to transport animals to in the event of a need. For horses, potential evacuation sites could include agricultural or veterinary racing tracks, school grounds, stables, show feet and fairgrounds, equestrian centers, and sale yards.
When moving horses or other animals, make sure you have the appropriate vehicles and loading facilities that can be used to transport the farm animal in all its forms. Portable yards can be extremely beneficial. Collaboration between different properties to ensure that there are sufficient resources (e.g., towing vehicles, floats trucks, or truck parking space) could be required and is recommended. It is important to ensure the neighbors in your area are aware of your plans for emergencies and also inform yourself about other emergency plans within your vicinity. Telling your family and friends about your goals is an excellent idea.
Be sure to ensure that the animals are provided with the ability to be easily identified and durable (neck collars or leg bands, ear tags, and markers that are not toxic or non-toxic).
Make sure you have the necessary items prepared.
Next, you must create your emergency supplies. Your emergency plan should contain all the items you’ll need for making your emergency plan, and ensure that your farm animals and horse animals are properly cared for in the event of an emergency.
It is possible to include emergency contact numbers, an outline of your home and the location of your animals, and information about the number of animals as well as particular areas and features that are identifiable and evidence of ownership and copies of any records from a vet or treatment. Other essential items include water and feed reserves for 7-10 days, vitamins and electrolyte packs, and food and water troughs/buckets. Also, any regular medication, portable panels/fences and race buckets, storage containers, ropes for water tanks, halters, radio and flashlights, blankets, towels, batteries, trash bags, tarps, cleaning products, and first aid equipment.
In the event of an emergency
It is essential to remember when you are in a situation of emergency, as you do, animals and horses are likely to be stressed and are likely to become terrified and confused. This is why extra care needs to be handled when handling them, and the best low-stress handling techniques should be employed at all times.
In the event of an emergency, planning your emergency strategy into effect sooner rather than later will ensure that you are not panicked and give you the time needed to prepare for unexpected events. This includes being alert and informed about the weather forecast for the coming days, especially during high-risk times.
In the ideal case and, if it is possible, If there is a prewarning of an emergency, such as a natural catastrophe, horses and other animals should be relocated to an area that is not in the disaster zone expected to be relocated to a secure and safe place within the property. The decision to allow animals at their current location in the event of an emergency should be based on risks to the welfare of animals and the immediate environment, as well as the possibility of safely moving to a safer location during an emergency.
Stay up-to-date with your state or local emergency services advice, alerts, and the most up-to-date information.
For additional advice on emergency plans and other tips to protect everyone, We encourage you to go through the information from the RSPCA Knowledgebase.