Disaster Action Guidelines For Horse Owners
You should be aware that actions you take before, during and after a natural
or man made disaster could save your horses' life.
Plan Ahead Before a Disaster Occurs:
- Familiarize yourself with the types of disasters that can occur in your
area and develop a plan of action to deal with each type. Some disasters
to consider are hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, severe winter
weather, fire, nuclear power plant accidents with release of radioactivity
to the environment and hazardous material spills.
- Survey your property to find the best location to confine your animals in
each type of disaster. Check for alternate water sources in case power
is lost and pumps and automatic waterers are not working after the
- If you think you might need to evacuate your horses from your property
determine several locations the animals could be taken, several routes to
these locations and the entry requirements for each. Make arrangements in
advance with the owner/operators to accept your horses and be sure to
contact them before taking the horses there. Locations that could be used
for evacuation are private stables, race tracks, fair grounds, equestrian
centers, private farms and humane societies.
- Permanently identify each horse by tattoo, microchip, brand, tag, photograph
(4 views-front, rear, left and right side) and/or drawing. Record its age,
sex, breed, and color with your record of this identification. Keep this
information with your important papers. If not identified at the time
of the disaster in the above manner, paint or etch hooves, use neck bands
or paint telephone number on side of animal.
- Be sure your horses' vaccination and medical records are written and up-to-date.
As a minimum, each horse should have a current Coggins test documented. Check
with your veterinarian as to what immunizations are advisable. Have
documentation of any medicines with dosing instructions, special feeding
instructions and the name and phone number of the veterinarian who
dispensed the drug.
- Place a permanent tag with your name and phone number, and the horse's
name on each animal's halter.
- Consider in your plan the prioritizing of which animals will be saved, if
all cannot be saved. Let all farm personnel know of your plans in case you
are not there when a disaster occurs.
- Prepare an emergency kit consisting of:
- plastic trash barrel with lid
- water bucket
- leg wraps
- fire resistant non nylon leads and halters
- first aid items
- portable radio and extra batteries
- sharp knife
- wire cutters
- lime, bleach
- Have trailers and vans maintained, full of gas and ready
to move at all times. Acclimate your horse to trailers
- Remember during emergencies you are taking minimum actions
to assure the animal's survival. Have enough fresh water
and hay on hand for 48-72 hours.
- During disasters you may wear different or unusual clothing,
so condition your horses to strange appearances ahead of
- Consider your insurance needs and be sure you have all the
coverage on your property and animals you may need and that
claims will be paid for the type of disasters you may
- PRACTICE YOUR PLAN.
At the Time of the Disaster:
- STAY CALM! FOLLOW YOUR PLAN!
- Listen to the Emergency Broadcasting System (EBS) station on
your portable radio for information about how to locate horse
care providers offering services during the disaster and any
special instructions about actions you should take to protect
- If you leave your home, take your horses' immunizations and
health records with you. Records kept at home may be damaged
during the disaster.
- If you evacuate and take your horses with you, take all your
immunization and health records, your emergency kit and
sufficient hay and water for a minimum 48 hour period. Call
ahead, if possible, to make sure that your emergency location
is still available.
- If you must leave your horses unattended at home, leave them
in the area most appropriate for the type of disaster you
previously selected such as high ground in a flood. Leave
enough water for the length of time you expect to be gone.
Do not trust automatic watering systems in case power
After the Disaster:
- Be careful about leaving your horses unattended outside
after the disaster. Familiar scents and landmarks may be
altered and the horses could easily become confused and lost.
It is best to place them in a secure area. Be sure fences are
intact as some may be damaged by the disaster. Check fences
and pastures for sharp objects that could injure horses.
Be aware of downed power lines, racoons, skunks and other
wild animals may have entered the area and could present a
danger to your horses.
- If any horses are lost during the disaster contact veterinarians,
humane societies, stables, race tracks, equestrian centers,
surrounding farms and other facilities that might house animals.
Listen to the EBS for infomation about groups that may be
accepting lost animals.
- If you find somone else's horse after the disaster, isolate it
from your animals until it is returned or can be examined
by a veterinarian.
- Use extreme caution when approaching and handling unknown
or frightened horses. Work in pairs when handling strange
- Check with your veterinarian, the state veterinary medical
association and the Department of Agriculture for information
about any disease outbreaks that may have occurred as a result
of the disaster.
- Be prepared to identify and document ownership when claiming
- Consider establishing security measures on your farm to protect
assets from looters, exploiters.
This information prepared by:
Maryland Department of Agriculture
Maryland Veterinary Medical Association
Maryland Emergency Management Agency
Maryland Horse Council
Maryland Cooperative Extension Service
Maryland Racing Commission
Maryland Jockey Club