Across the UK this festive season, we saw not-so-festive, severe weather which appears to be continuing into 2014. Whilst here in the UK, we are partial and prepared for a bit of constant drizzle and grey skies, sudden floods and high winds bring chaos and destruction across our country.
This was so, during the recent floods which engulfed many houses and left Christmas presents under the bauble-laden tree more than slightly soggy. This devastating weather often arrives suddenly, with very little time to prepare and so having a bit of an advance plan can sometimes prove more than beneficial. Owning a horse comes with great responsibility and this should not be abandoned in these situations. You should be prepared ahead of time for a battle-plan for the destructive weathers, this will allow you to act as far in advance as possible and help to ensure the safety of both yourself and your horses, just remember your wellies!
1. Make sure you tag your horse
It is important that whatever happens, perhaps the horse escapes for whatever reason (a fallen tree creating a break in the boundaries for example), or gets into bother, that you can be contacted. Be sure to in some way mark that your horse, is in fact, yours. Perhaps braid a tag into it’s mane, but never around limbs, where circulation can be cut off, to ensure that in the event of escape, your horse can be easily returned to you. It is also a good idea to take a photo of you with your horse so that you have some simple proof that that the horse belongs to you. Also, make sure that you gather all necessary documentation for your animal and seal it in a secure bag and move to a safe place. These documents are extremely important and will be necessary in the future, especially if you need to claim ownership.
2. Bring horses onto higher ground
As a matter of physics, flooding will first hit lower grounds. There is no avoiding this… that’s just science. So if you feel that your grounds are likely to be flooded, move your horses onto higher ground. If horses are confined to spaces where flooding is likely, they will panic and there are likely to be health repercussions if left to stand in cold and dirty flood water. If possible, move your horse to secure stables where they will be protected from the strong, dangerous winds. If you have no option to do this, try to arrange for your horse to be moved into another neighbouring field which is on higher ground.
3. Arrange alternative accommodation
If you have absolutely no options which you consider to be safe, try and arrange alternative plans well in advance. This could be for many reasons, perhaps you, yourself may get stranded at your home and not be able to care for your animals properly in these times. It may be worth considering housing your horses with a friend or stables in an area which is at less risk. Plan your escape routes and travel arrangements for these situations.
4. Gather enough supplies to last for yourself and your animals
We all like to go a little bit crazy when a weather warning is put into place, which usually results in a raid of your local supermarket and there being a digestive biscuit shortage across the country. But when you’re gathering up a year’s supply of loo roll and enough milk to float the navy fleet, don’t forget to go and stock up on food and bedding for your horse. Your horses will not be able to search the cupboards for that tin of Spam that’s been there since the 70s when they are in desperate need, so they will count on you to supply them with all that they need. Ensure that it is stored in a dry place and that you have enough to last out the flood.
5. Make sure you’ve got a clean water supply for the horses
When flood waters present themselves, health issues arise as the drains and sewerage also rise. Be sure to gather plenty of clean water when a warning is issued to ensure that both yourself and your animals will be well looked-after. Use bottles to gather as much clean water in advance as possible and also consider filling trugs and portable water carriers for your animals, to make it easy to take to them.
6. Untether animals
Give your horse the best chance for all eventualities. The picture above shows a horse in Colorado, named Socks, who was stranded in fast moving, flooded waters, tethered to a fence. This story, fortunately had a happy ending; but many under the same circumstances do not. If there is no more you can do, allow your horse to use it’s intuitions and survival instincts and if you have tagged your horse and taken all other possible precautions, this is the best you can do. Leaving the horse tied limits it’s movements and diminishes it’s chances of escaping if need’s be.
7. Importantly, don’t risk it all
Whilst we all care immensely about the well-being of our animals, the RSPCA strongly advise that you ‘don’t put your own or another life in danger to attempt an animal rescue.’
The RSPCA offer the following advice on preparing yourself and your animals for a flood: http://www.rspca.org.uk/allaboutanimals/helpandadvice/floods