Wildfire Preparedness for Horse Owners

Preparing horses for a wildfire evacuation requires an extra level of planning, preparedness and practice. Building an evacuation kit (PDF, 8 MB) for each horse, and having a plan for them that’s been practiced, increases the potential your horse(s) will be able to leave when you do. If the wildfire’s proximity does not permit the time needed to load horses, it’s best to turn them loose and not leave them confined in a barn or pasture. Close the doors and gates so they can’t re-enter the area.

Evacuation Preparedness For Horses

Practicing your evacuation route using your horse trailer ensures it’s compatible with the road’s width and grade on each potential exit route from your home. A stuck trailer could prevent others from using the same path to safely evacuate. It’s important to know any limitations before leaving your property during a wildfire. Always take into consideration that large animals take extra time to evacuate. If you don’t have trailer space for all your horses, have a plan that includes neighbors, friends or relatives that have trailers and can help; or identify an animal emergency response team, or for hire service that will assist with short notice.

Being familiar with what to expect in a wildfire evacuation, knowing how and when to leave and building an evacuation kit (PDF, 8 MB) for each horse will expedite leaving safely when fires happen.

If you’re unable to evacuate with the horse, but have time, using one of the methods below may help animal rescuers reunite you quicker with the horse:

  • Use a livestock crayon to write your name, phone number and address on the horse
  • With clippers shave your phone number into the horse’s coat
  • Braid a temporary ID tag with pre-written contact info into the horse’s mane
  • Attach a neck band

One way to easily store important information you may need for your horses is to scan the recommended documents and photos on the checklist and keep them on a flash drive that’s permanently stored inside the evacuation kit (PDF, 8 MB). Consider having two identical flash drives and give one to a friend or relative that lives in a neighboring community; that will help provide the information you need if there wasn’t time to grab your kit when the public alert was received.

Horse Evacuation Checklist

Simple tools you’ll need to build an evacuation kit for your horse:

  • Large bin or tote with a lid—preferably a waterproof type
  • Clear waterproof sealable plastic bags in multiple sizes
  • A Sharpie-style writing utensil for labeling and marking contents
  • Note pad for documenting special details and needs
  • Pen or pencil
  • One or two flash drives to store copies of paperwork

The following items need to be included in each evacuation kit

Records:

  • Copies of Ownership Records
  • Breed registration papers
  • Brand inspection
  • Bill of Sale
  • Insurance paperwork

Microchip Paperwork:

  • Include copies of your horse’s microchip paperwork. Update the address listed on the paperwork as needed to keep it accurate and current
  • Consider enrolling your microchipped horse in a registry

Identification:

  • Photos of brands
  • Photos of you with the horse showing any unique markings or tattoos

If you’re unable to evacuate with the horse, use one of the identification options below:

  • Use spray paint or a livestock crayon to write your name, phone number and address on the side of the horse
  • Use clippers to shave your phone number into the horse’s coat
  • Braid a temporary ID tag with pre-written contact info into the horse’s mane
  • Attach a neck band with your contact information

Vaccination/Health Records:

Copies of all current vaccination records

Copies of Health Certificates

Medications:

Your vet’s office may also be evacuated or closed during a wildfire, so this information will be important

  • A list of all current medicines and their associated doses

If possible, keep an extra supply of medicine that your horse(s) need. Ensure each is labeled with the horse’s name and a description if you have multiples. Periodically check the expiration dates and replace as needed.

Tack:

  • Rope and halters

If you’re unable to evacuate with the horse and choose to let it loose, ensure the halter and rope are not made from a nylon material, since it could melt during fire’s extreme temperatures.

List Of Important Phone Numbers:

Remember cell phones and Internet access could be temporarily out of service and you’ll need a printed list to connect with these resources.

  • Veterinarian
  • Local animal control agency
  • Animal shelter/boarding facility
  • Friends or relatives who would be willing to temporarily take your horse until you’re able to return home

Keep a clipboard of all the important numbers in a highly visible area in the barn in case you’re not home and first responders are able to provide assistance.

Have a list of neighbors in your Buddy System Network. A buddy system network is a previously arranged shared process where neighbors evacuate each other’s horses.

Food and Water:

  • Hay and grain for three to seven days (store in an airtight waterproof container that’s rotated every few months
  • Water for three to seven days
  • Feed and water bucket

Miscellaneous items:

  • Dry shavings for the stall
  • Pitchfork
  • Leather gloves and towels
  • Grooming supplies
  • Fly spray
  • Fly masks

First aid kit:

Items should include cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape, scissors, tweezers, duct tape, vet wraps, medical-type gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution.

Cleaning supplies:

Paper towels, trash bags, spray cleaner, disinfectant and hand sanitizer.

Keep your emergency evacuation kit in a dry location where the temperature does not get too hot or below freezing. Make sure it’s in an easy-to reach spot where you have quick access for vehicle loading

Trailers:

Make sure your vehicle is set up to tow the horse trailer. Make sure your trailer is in road-worthy condition. Practice loading your horse in the trailer prior to an evacuation.

Courtesy of National Fire Protection Association