If you are responsible for the wellbeing of horses, you are probably used to tracking the weather for many reasons, like turnout or blanketing but also to stay on top of severe weather alerts like strong winds, thunderstorms and heavy rains or snowfall and ice. Here are tips to prepare for severe weather and help to keep your horses safe and sound:
- You want to keep enough hay and grain on hand (and in an accessible location) to feed your horses for several days without restocking.
- Secure outdoor items like outdoor furniture, empty buckets or feed troughs and jumps as well as other items that can be picked up and become projectiles in strong winds.
- Unhook all hoses from faucets before temperatures drop, so they do not freeze and become unusable.
- Make a list of farms within about 100 miles of your property, which offer temporary stabling, in case you have to evacuate. Make sure you have all the paperwork for horses and farm handy to grab and go. Fuel up your truck and have your trailer in good working order, so you are ready to go in case you have to.
Should horses be kept inside during bad weather? That is a sensitive question and depends on many factors e.g., what the horses are used to, health, what type of severe weather is coming and so on. In general horses should be fine being outside during bad weather as long as they have access to
- shelter (ideally a 3-sided shelter)
- adequate hay to stay warm
- water that is not frozen
Situations where you should consider to keep your horses in would include
- if your paddocks or pastures become inaccessible during severe weather and you physically can not get out there to feed or check on the water for your horses.
- if there are thunderstorms with a lots of lightning. Horses often seek shelter under trees during bad weather which can be a dangerous place to be during lightning. If your barn has a lightning rod, horses might be safer inside.
Tanja Schnuderl is a team member with The Equine Expert LLC, a multi-discipline equine expert witness and consulting firm with expert equestrians offering legal expert witness and consulting services in court cases and legal matters. Tanja is an expert on Barn Management and Horse Behavior. She is the Barn Manager for Moon Rising Farm just outside Washington DC and Principal of Sigma Equine LLC, an equine appraisal business. Tanja grew up in Germany and was a paralegal for many years. For more information on Tanja Schnuderl email firstname.lastname@example.org, www.theequineexpert.com