Generally in a barn/pens, the horses are left where they are at a show and people take shelter where they can--- most large show sites have a showers/bathroom area made of cement/cinderblock so those tend to be the 'safe' areas. Other options are under grandstands if they are cement and not the metal bleachers. If no basement or reinforced concrete room/building, an interior room on the lowest level without windows is where you need to go. Grab something to cover your head if you can.
The 'old belief' used to be to turn horses loose if a tornado was imminent, but now with more fences, traffic, etc. it's safer for horses and people to leave them where they are and hope for the best. A secure pen/stall is about the best you can do for them, especially when traveling. Horses left to their own devices in large pastures will often move away, but not always. Unless you have access to pastures measured by the square mile, they're probably better off in a barn with sturdy stall walls in case the roof collapses. Put a waterproof tag with your name and cell phone number on a leather halter or braided into the mane with a bright ribbon so it can be seen, and leave the horses either in a stall or in their pens. Flying debris is the greatest risk, so a fly mask if you have it might save them some irritation from flying dirt and sand. But honestly, in a direct hit with a strong tornado, it won't make much difference if they're in pens or stalls or standing outside. Lightning, hail, and flash flooding are also a risk, as tornadic storms tend to go hand in hand with lightning and torrential rain and large hail. A horse left with no shelter with large hail will have his life endangered. I know people who have lost horses to lightning and hail. 90 mph wind and softball size hail will kill nearly anyone or anything hit in the head with it. Protect yourself and stay indoors. Your horses will turn tail to the wind and tuck their heads down and that's really all they can do, but many do fine. If you must tie your horses, try to do so in a such a way they can turn the way they want-- a highline, etc. If you have to tie to a trailer, you'll need to decide if you want them with their heads next to it with the trailer blocking the wind, or you want them butt to the wind with no shelter from the trailer. If the trailer flips, they won't be ok and that's a risk you take. Some people load their horses in a trailer during a storm-- a big, heavy steel trailer is probably a safer bet for this than a fiberglass or aluminum. I've seen hailstones go right through the roof of both.
Some things to remember:
- Tornado Watch means conditions are favorable for tornadoes to appear. Keep an eye on things and be aware.
- Tornado Warning means a tornado has been radar-indicated or spotted on the ground and is headed your way. Take shelter immediately. Not in 20 minutes, NOW. The warning system has really improved and most will give you adequate time to get to shelter, but don't dilly dally. A warning doesn't mean you'll be hit as tornadoes can skip and hop, stay up in the sky, or bypass you by 100 yards or 10 miles.
- TorCon - this is a newer thing, but the number, from 1-10, is the percentage that a tornado will be on the ground within 50 miles of you. So, for instance, parts of Texas and Oklahoma have a Torcon 9 today. This means that in those areas, there's a 90% chance a tornado will be spotted within 50 miles of those living in that area. If it's a 3, that's a 30% chance, and so on.
Beware that for those who live in areas where tornadoes are not rare, it's somewhat of a spectator sport. People stand out on porches or drive out to watch them. Some families set up lawn chairs and snacks on the deck and watch the sky. Just because people are out and about doesn't mean it's safe to do so. Keep your identification and important documents on you or in easy reach in case of a warning, and be prepared. If you have time, put items that can blow around away (trailer awning, lawn chairs, card table, etc.). A trailer or mobile home is the WORST place you can be. You're better off in nearly any building, even without a basement, or even in a ditch than in a trailer if you have a tornado. Pack a small first aid kit in your items, just in case.
A large showsite with a week-long show or heavily-used campsite likely has a plan in case of tornado or severe weather. If storms are forecasted for the area, ask the office what to do and where to go in the event of severe weather. Find out what county the campground/showsite is at, and plug that into your phone so you will get weather alerts. Know what you plan to do just in case, but likely the worst that will happen is a thunderstorm and some wind/small hail and you'll be just fine. Enjoy the show, and try not to worry too much; it won't change anything.
Last edited by SilverMaple; 05-20-2019 at 09:06 PM.