Skyepony's WunderBlog

Horses & Wildfires / Fire News

By: Skyepony, 1:57 AM GMT on March 14, 2006

With the help of a little one I accidently deleted my blog the other day. Thanks most likely to our Benevilent Dictators, it reappeared. So I've decided to do fire news updates in the comments...
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I saw in the CNN article, that Dr Masters had linked in his blog, something both sad yet not suprising:

"I've seen something I've never seen before and that's cattle and horses burned. You'd think they would run, but they just stood there," Whittington told the Amarillo Globe-News.

You would think these majestic creatures would run from fire, since the 1st thing most horses do in the face of fear is flee. But they don't, at least not the majority of domestic horses, for their pasture & particuliarly the barn is their home. Many horses are impossible to lead out of a burning barn without covering their eyes (jacket, shirt, towel or blanket). If you manage to get a horse from a burning barn, be sure to secure it in a nonadjasent pasture or tie it to something or it most likely run back into the fire! My Starrpony once extingushed a campfire by rolling her hindquarters over it, sinnged only 2 hairs. Horses don't behave as expected when faced with fire.

Whittington, is a volenteer firefighter, according to the article. Though some emergengy responders are trained in livestock behavior & handling, many more are not. The local sherriff department "picks me up" if they've spotted a horse loose within a 1/4 mile of my house, even though none of mine have escaped. All it took was one deputy to figure out I could catch horses. Their endeavers of chasing them down with flashlights drawn never seems to work:)

During times of extreme fire threat it is best to make small changes to your routine, have things ready to evacuate, & have a wildfire plan to best ensure the well being of your property & livestock.

First take a picture of you & your horses. Having a microchip inplanted is also good, ask your vet, they are cheap ($25 or so).

Assess your situation~ How many horses? Trailer? If the number of horses don't exceed what could be hauled out in one rig~
*Check your rig, have it in working order. This includes the vehicle used for hauling.
*Train your pasture horses to come when called, by calling them to the gate, followed by treats, near daily, til they run when called, then weekly.
*Train all the horses to load quickly. This can be acomplished by parking your trailer in the pasture, put blocks under the back to stablize it once unhitched & feed your horse in it. Haltered with lead rope, begin by feeding a meal from a bucket on the back or ramp of a trailer, move meal a foot or more forward each meal. Once they got it, continue feeding at least 1 meal a day in the trailer for a week. In a pinch, with an unwilling to load horse, attach a lunge rope to the outside tie, on the side of the trailer they are getting on, have a handler line the horse up, ready to enter, head prefurably in the trailer, draw the lunge rope around the hindquarters but not high enough to slip up under the tail. Feed the rope around the middle support bar (preferably) or through the tie loop on the oppisite side. Pull to apply pressure to hinquarters, keeping taunt til horse is in. This works about 75% of the time, so train your horse to load.
*Put a few day supply of hay & grain in the trailer compartment as well as an extra pitchfork, bale of shavings, a brush, hoofpick, knife, extra bridles & some water buckets.
*Gather all documents including coggins test, registration, vaccination records, pictures, microchip numbers, any recent vet certificates (usually waved for crossing state lines during emergancies) & any maps needed of places you might flee to. Put these in a folder in your truck.
*Devise a plan of where to go in more than one direction. Know where you can go locally~ consult vets, feed stores, local couny emergency planners, local horse papers & people.
Know where you can go in another county if things get real bad. Many states open their larger show grounds to evacuees or you can find boarding barns. Another way to approach this is think, horse vacation. Be it live in a forest or go to one of the many places in the country where you can vacation with your horse. Be prepared to pay for boarding up front.

If you don't have a way to haul them out ~ protect the barn, no brush or trees anywhere near it, excessable by fire department, loose hay cleaned up, no flamible liquids around, shavings pile not exposed to an ember, water the area often & stongly consider a barn sprinkler system.

If you have a trailer or not, being proactive against fire around the barn, can go a long way in keeping you from having to test your fire plan. It's important to have, things like halters with leads attached, tools to bust through a back fence & a fire extinguisher handy. Here's a good site on general barn fire safety.

Sometimes large areas are ordered to evacuate, sometimes you have no option but to leave. A trailer & a plan is strongly recomended. Though when large fires loom & an area of risk is assessed, help may be available, so ask your local emergency personnal.

Credit ~ NOAA

The bright pink is RED FLAG FIRE WARNING. If your conserned about the color over your house go here.

For more localized information about fire warnings in your area ~
Please See Weather Underground's

at Damon85013's Blog


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.