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Beauseant 06-25-2011 11:35 AM

Lightning threat...real or not?
A poster recently started a thread on her horse getting hit by lightning....and it kinda freaked me out a bit.

We usually leave ours in if the forecast calls for storms, or the barn owner brings them in for us if we aren't there and one pops up....but I always figured we were just being I am not so sure.

What do you all do? Do you worry about lightning striking your horses? How common is it? Would a horse be safer out in a storm if they were in a paddock with the barn attached and with no trees? Or doesn't it really matter if they stand next to a building or under a tree?

equiniphile 06-25-2011 11:42 AM

I've never really thought about horses and lightening. If there were tornado sightings right near us, my mom threatens that she would bring them into our basement, but never leave them in a stall during a tornado sighting as they can't escape. As to lightening, I've always assumed mine will be smart enough to go in stalls (as they have free access to the main pasture) should a storm get incredibly bad.

JustDressageIt 06-25-2011 12:38 PM

It can be a very real threat, unfortunately.

Tennessee 06-25-2011 01:41 PM

I know two people whose horses have been killed by lightning. One girl had two horses get struck (not at the same time..just throughout the years).

My horses have access to cover at all times, and they usually stay in that cover (except for my gelding High Five). I always worry about it.

walkinthewalk 06-25-2011 04:26 PM

When a friend still lived in KY, just a bit NW of Bowling Green, she was watching the neighbor's herd of Palomino QH's make a dash for the barn when four of them got struck by lightening and didn't survive.

I am pretty sure no one had shoes on; two were a mare and her foal.

I work part time, so my horses stay out during the day and come in at night. They are all barefoot, but I'm not sure that's important; what is important is that lightening seeks out the closest/tallest object.

Our land is extremely hilly and we have a very high ridge behind us that the lightening loves to strike on. My lead horse will push everyone off that ridge if they happen to be up there grazing when he hears lightening and thunder.

I notice when my lead horse gathers the herd for a storm, he can sense the difference between a storm full of lightening and a storm full of wind and rain without much lightening.

He gathers the herd in different places in the pasture, according to the type of storm he perceives will be coming. He has never taken them to the barn, nor will he allow anyone to "break formation" until he gives the order after he deems them safe from weather harm.

Leaving them locked in a barn with no one on the property is something I would never do, so I have to trust his judgement and pray for a good outcome on the days I am not home.

My big worry is that lightening will hit the transformer pole in the pasture, the cable goes down and electrocutes my horses. That happned to a good friend many years ago when I lived on the OH/PA border.

With horses that on flat land, especially without trees in the near-distance, I would really be a nervous wreck to leave them out because they would be the tallest objects.

PaintHorseMares 06-25-2011 09:35 PM


Originally Posted by walkinthewalk (Post 1076367)
My lead horse will push everyone off that ridge if they happen to be up there grazing when he hears lightening and thunder.

I notice when my lead horse gathers the herd for a storm, he can sense the difference between a storm full of lightening and a storm full of wind and rain without much lightening.

Unfortunately, there no place is without risk. Being out in the open, under trees, or in a barn all have their own hazards during high winds and lightning.

As with walkinthewalk, we let our experienced lead mare make the decision of where is safest during storms.

Cherie 06-25-2011 10:56 PM

I have lost 4 horses to lightning over the years. Two were struck together durning a thunder storm. Another was found dead under a tree after a storm. The last was found by itself out in a pasture even though there were severalothers out with it.

So, yes. It is a very real threat. We have 60 horses and all of them live out in pastures or large paddocks. Bringing them in is not an optioin. But, considering the large number of horses I have owned over the years, it is less likely to kill a horse than a lot of other things that are also very real. I have put more down to broken legs and all of those were either freaky things or were just discovered in the pasture. Since our horses are all out and we have a very good management program, we just do not have problems with colic, but most people I know lose a lot more horses to colic than to storms or lightning.

LadyDreamer 06-25-2011 11:22 PM

My buddy died in the lowest part of the field, out in the open, no shoes, in a storm that didn't last ten minutes.

There isn't much you can do beyond bringing your horses in any event that could produce lightning.

To help ease your fears:

For as many people on here who have had it happen or had it happen to a friend(it seems like a lot from the posters on here), it is not that common I don't think. My baby was the first I've had or seen die from it, and I know of one other friend who has had it happen, personally. Considering the number of horses and horse people I know, it really is a freak accident. Lightning is the essence of random. It doesn't choose to hit what it does.

I think it seems like a lot of posters have had it happen because those who have had it happen are the ones posting. If you posted a poll with 1)I've had a horse injured/killed by lightning; 2) I know someone personally who has had a horse injured/killed by lightning(knowing just on the forums doesn't count); 3) Blessedly, none of the above. It would be my guess that 3 would be in the majority.

Even though I sadly could pick 1, I don't fear it happening again. It could tonight, but I am not afraid of it. All I can do is deal with it if it does and pray it never happens again.

I don't pray often but I pray none of you have it happen. Why it couldn't have happened to one of the tall, retired horses, or hell,even one of the expensive open broodmares, I don't know. Why did it have to happen to my short, fat, ugly, beloved, most special, wonderful baby.... it is devastating... I pray none of you have it happen.

Don't fear the unexpected. You will never stop fretting.
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Tymer 06-25-2011 11:29 PM

I'm wondering, would a big lightning rod in the far side of the pasture help or make it worse?

JLynn 06-25-2011 11:34 PM

Wow! I am so glad that I came across this thread as Flash is being boarded right now. I know that the barn owner leaves them out in storms. She works during the day and her husband works second shift. Two days ago we had a really bad thunder storm with driving rains. I knew that the horses were left out (there are the owner's 4 and my girl), but I am not allowed to bring them into the barn. If I go up to get my girl and put her in the barn, I get scolded by the owner and told that it's unfair Flash to leave her in her stall when the others are outside. It's situations like this (and many other ones) that prompted me to the decision to bring Flash home. The gate on particular pasture that they are in now is held by a rubber bunji. The last time I tried to get Flash out to ride, I couldn't get her out, hold the gate and try to bunji and hold the lead line all at the same time, especially with 4 mares trying to get out, too. One of her horses escaped and I had to quickly get Flash into her stall, then try to catch the owner's horse. Fortunately, this particular horse had the sense to go into the paddock by the barn to graze. I had to coax her with carrots to keep her from playing "catch me if you can." I haven't ridden Flash or brought her out to work with her for the past couple of days because I'm afraid the same thing will happen. To try to get her in the barn during a storm like that without the others getting out and going every which way would be improbable at best.

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