Wildfire season is upon us and it looks as though it is going to be another long, frightening, heartbreaking year. There are good resources for preparing for wildfire in the “Natural Disasters” area of the “Horse Health and Emergency” section of the Resources menu. This advice comes from the Colorado Horse Rescue Network for evacuating horses.
1. TEACH YOUR HORSE TO LOAD (and tie)! And I mean immediately step into a trailer. Their life depends on it. Emergency crews will only spend a few minutes trying to help your horse before they will have to move on and leave your animal.
2. Take at least one bale of hay and a BUCKET, you never know where your horse is going to end up. Have these things ready to go in your trailer during fire season.
3. No matter what, if you take your horses or not, MAKE SURE you take your proof of ownership/BRAND INSPECTIONS! This will help you prove the horses are yours later on! (Photos and or Coggins work in non-brand inspection areas!) This may be the only way you can claim them if they’re found.
4. If you CANNOT TAKE your horse, TURN THEM LOOSE! They have great survival instincts, it’s better than dying in a locked barn.
5. IF YOU TURN THEM LOOSE, write your phone number on them in some way! Spray paint/shoe polish, whatever you can find. We have seen a lot of horses with illegible numbers on hooves, THESE DON’T LAST when a horse is wandering through debris. We personally use tags tied into manes, even masking tape around a braid will work!
6. If you turn them loose TAKE THEIR HALTERS OFF! Imagine all the debris your horse is going to encounter! You don’t want them caught up! Also no blankets, no sheets, no boots, nothing that might melt, catch fire or get snagged!
7. If you turn them loose, LOCK THEM OUT OF THEIR BARN/PEN/STALL/YARD. They WILL go back!
8. If you take your horse to an evacuation center, it is still a good idea to have your horse marked in some way. Sometimes evacuation centers have to evacuate or move horses as they fill up!
9. If you take your horse in a trailer, PLEASE tie them if you safely can! I cannot count how many times we were evacuating and found a loose horse we needed to load with ours, if the horses are loose in the trailer that is a disaster waiting to happen.
10. If your horse is in a large pasture area and you need to leave them cut the fence in corners and leave gates open! When horses can’t find their way in smoke/debris, they will follow the fence line