Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Severe Weather – Think About Your Horse
Last time we talked about the heat of summer quickly creeping up on both us and our horse partners and the simple, inexpensive things we can do to keep them healthy and comfortable.
Something else we’re all aware of is that the lovely summer weather can bring some intense storms as well. Smaller animals can seek refuge on their own but we need to look into the precautions that owners can take for horses.
The first step in protecting your horses from harsh spring and summer weather is to consider the risks are in your area. For many people the most common threats are punishing thunderstorms, lightning, flash floods, hail and tornadoes.
For some the option of moving horses to stalls to protect them from lightning during a storm is the first and most common idea. But what many don’t realize is that giving the horse the ability to move around outside may be just as safe or safer.
Run-in sheds can keep your horse dry and warm during a storm and provide protection from lightning strikes or torrential rain or hail. Additionally, if horses are in a pasture with trees and natural cover the risk of a strike is greatly reduced.
If you are in an area that experiences high wind gusts with the rain your horse may be even safer outside of a the barn. To further reduce the risk of injury, do your best to keep your paddocks and pastures clear of debris that can become airborne in a high wind situation. Even an ordinary bucket – when tossed around by high winds – could cause physical damage to a horse either by hitting them directly or frightening them into injuring themselves.
When it comes to torrential rainfall and specifically flash flooding horses will use their natural instincts and move to higher ground if that option is available. Again a clear pasture and barnyard area will allow a horse a way to escape rather then being swept downstream and the risk of drowning or being bombarded by floating objects.
Finally, though less harsh but just as serious, is the consequence of your horse standing in flooded pastures for extended periods of time. This can lead to the softening of the hoof and sole which can lead to stone bruises, sole abscesses, white line disease and infections. Additionally, rapid drying or extremely muddy conditions can cause hooves to crack and become brittle. Keep hooves cleaned and picked out and apply hoof conditioners to help minimize harm.
Overall the most ideal outdoor conditions for withstanding unpredictable summer weather is a large pasture with a three-sided run-in shelter. This type of horse structure protects horses from the elements but also allows them the freedom of escape. Finally, don’t put your run-in at the lowest, most open spot in the field. Setting it in the vicinity of trees or a lightning rod increases the safety advantage for your horse and reduces the risk of a direct strike or ending up under water.
A final thought (*and brief “plug” for Horizon Structures’ run-in sheds) has to do with the stability of your run-in shed during a high-wind situation. A horse owner’s worst nightmare is having the shed tip over when the horses are inside. Our run-in sheds are built on a 6×6 skid frame which gives them very good weight and stability and another weight adding feature is our oak kickboard which lines the run-in rather than plywood. A great standard feature on Horizon run-in sheds is that we install re-enforced steel corners with tow hooks that can be used for moving the structure or the tow hooks can be used in coordination with our anchor kits which are great for areas with extreme weather scenarios. Each anchor kit comes with 4 of each stakes, cables and clips including the rod for installation. We also offer to install your anchor kit for you at the time of delivery.