We could be in for another busy year for wildfires. Experts say that as vegetation dries out in the coming months, the risk of wildland will increase. Wildfires can spread quickly, threatening homes, people, and livestock. Often, wildfires require horses to be evacuated. How prepared you are for this situation can mean the difference between life and death.
After a series of devastating wildfires in Pleasant Valley, Nevada, which killed several horses, Maplewood Stables began hosting a free annual clinic on safety and handling for emergencies. We attended their clinic last month and here are five key takeaways that you can implement at your barn!
5Always keep a halter and lead rope at the stall or corral.
If there is an emergency, you want to be able to catch your horse as quickly as possible, not lose precious time looking for a halter and rope.
4Always close the stall door and barn door.
In a panic, many horses will run back into the barn because it is their safe space.
3Your horse must know how to load in a trailer.
Don’t wait until an emergency to try to train a horse to load! Practice unusual scenarios as well, such as loading at night, in unfamiliar trailers, or with handlers your horse does not know.
2If worse comes to worst, it’s best to turn horses loose and let them fend for themselves.
Be sure to remove blankets and leg wraps (which are flammable). If possible, mark your horse for identification before turning them loose.
1Have an evacuation plan in place before an emergency happens.
This includes a trailer plan, a destination, and people to call for help if needed.
The bottom line is, do not wait for a disaster to strike. We owe it to our horses to plan and prepare for emergencies. If you live in a wildfire-prone area, have a plan in place – and practice – before you need to respond for real. Maplewood Stables will host another free safety clinic on November 25 and they have plans to produce a free video and a laminated pamphlet for horse owners. For information on Maplewood Stables upcoming disaster preps clinics visit www.maplewoodstables.com.
Story by Samantha Szesciorka
Photos by Carol Schley