Safest place for horses in a thunder storm? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 43 Old 06-29-2016, 08:31 AM Thread Starter
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Safest place for horses in a thunder storm?

I moved my two horses to my place almost a month ago. My vet was in to vaccinate the new horse, and since he lives just up the road, I asked him what his routine was in regards to putting his horse out and bringing it in the barn. We've had some hot weather lately and the flies can get really bad during the day. He told me he puts his horse out at night and brings him in for the afternoon. Our neighbors, who have three horses, leave them out 24/7. So I decided to start letting my two horses out in the pasture at night and bringing them in the smaller paddock during the day.

This has been working fine, and they really like being out when it's not so hot and the flies are gone, but last night, we had a heavy downpour and some thunder and lightning. It was pretty far away (I slept with my bedroom window open so I would hear it if it got really close) so I left them outside. The gate to the paddock which leads to their open stalls stays open so they can come in for shelter. But it occurred to me that if we had thunder and lightning right on top of us, it wouldn't be the safest time for me to go out and get them either.

So what would you do and why? Let me describe the pasture a bit - it's oddly shaped because it goes around a few natural obstacles, is situated directly behind our house, downhill, and there are 50 ft+ mature trees behind, and along the two sides of the pasture (with a couple of much smaller trees in the pasture for cover and shade). The brand new barn is also slightly uphill from the pasture and has a full metal roof. I asked the electrician about lightning protection and he says we don't need it because the lightning would spread out on the roof and ground itself.

If lightning was going to hit our property, it stands to reason that it would hit the tallest object, which would be a tree, the house or barn right? I realize it's not impossible that it will hit a horse, but is it safer to bring them into a big metal barn?

Here's a picture of our pasture taken from behind our house.
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post #2 of 43 Old 06-29-2016, 08:42 AM
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I bring mine in during the day for bug relief. In the winter, we do the opposite. A couple of my gates are in panels with metal hoops over the top, and I am not laying my hands on those in a thunderstorm, either!!

Horses do physiologically attract lightening, but they ARE horses, and can find MANY other ways to maime and kill I leave them out, anxiously await its end, and count heads as soon as it stops.

Lightening could hit the barn, too.

Remember, horses wake up every morning thinking what am I going to eat, and how am I going to kill myself....
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post #3 of 43 Old 06-29-2016, 08:54 AM
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Where I board at we typically leave the horses in during a thunderstorm, mostly because at times there is nobody at the barn, and the fences are electric. If the power goes out, so do the fences. We have tornados in my area, and if there is ever a chance of tornados, the horses go out with a breakaway "mare collar" with their info on it.

When I had my horses at my house they always had the choice to go in and out of their stalls whenever they wanted. Pretty much every single time it stormed, I would find them outside with their backs to the rain. They are silly. They would worry me sick.
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post #4 of 43 Old 06-29-2016, 09:35 AM
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I let my horses decide. They always have access to shelter and if they choose to take cover in a storm that is up to them. Their natural instincts will help them to decide. IMO if they have access to their stalls they will go in if they want.
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post #5 of 43 Old 06-29-2016, 09:51 AM
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My horse lives outside 24/7, he always has the option of going in the shed, but more often that he just puts his head in the shed.... I will never understand that horse.

The barn owner will take some of the horses in if there's talk of an impending storm... typically the ones who have broken fences/gates because of thunder.

I would never go out and touch a metal gate in the middle of a thunder storm though, horses will always follow their instincts. If they have means of shelter and they want to be out of the rain, they will go in (Or just stick their head in...)

If you're concerned about a bit storm coming, just bring them inside before it even hits. It might seem silly, but at least you won't have to go through the mental strain of "DO I BRING THEM IN?! DO I LEAVE THEM?!~"

Hope that helped a bit.
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post #6 of 43 Old 06-29-2016, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by DomiStLaurent View Post
My horse lives outside 24/7, he always has the option of going in the shed, but more often that he just puts his head in the shed.... I will never understand that horse.
(OT) ^^^He sounds like the older of my two mares. The young one goes into the shelter during the afternoon heat, and her old friend stands at the door and sticks her head in. The shelter is large, plenty big enough for the two of them. There is no shade at the doorway so her body is in blazing sun.... at least she's white so she reflects some of the heat.

Could this be an equine version of the ostrich's famed head in the sand? Instead of "my head is hidden so they can't see me" it's "my head is cool - or dry - so the rest of me must be cool - or dry - as well".

There is nothing more peaceful than watching a horse eat.
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post #7 of 43 Old 06-29-2016, 10:24 AM Thread Starter
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I can just picture a horse with his head in a shelter and the rest of his body sticking out too... my dog hates it when I leave the house because I put her in the basement when we're out so she hides under the bed and thinks I can't see her. Only her butt and tail are sticking out, LOL.

My horses do the opposite. They love to stand in their stalls with the doors wide open and look out into the paddock. There is also a 10 x 24 ft overhang above their stalls so even with their heads sticking out, they are under cover.

So I guess I will keep letting them decide what to do. Of course if they were forecasting violent thunderstorms or if there was a risk of power going out, as in high wind events, I would have them inside, or at least in the paddock where there is a wood fence as a backup. They don't seem to care about the thunder so I don't think they would spook and run through the fence. We almost never get extreme weather here (unless you count blizzards, but we're used to those) and the power rarely goes out since they cleared the trees around the power lines in our area. And if the power did happen to go out in the middle of the night, it always wakes me up because our fire alarm beeps when it happens (safety feature or something). I should be able to go out and round them up before they realize they can get out.
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post #8 of 43 Old 06-29-2016, 12:10 PM
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I know of horses that have been struck by lightning. I keep mine inside the barn if there is a risk of thunder, but I work far enough away that I can't run home to put them in. If I am home, I will leave them out as much as possible, and scoot them in if a storm may roll up.

Today there is a risk of thunder between 3-5 so they are stalled.
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post #9 of 43 Old 06-29-2016, 12:19 PM
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I've seen several horses and quite a few cattle struck dead by lightning - its not uncommon at all - and there have been cases of multiple strikes occurring where fields have electric fencing so always turn that off in a storm
Fifty-two cows are killed after lightning hits a wire fence - Telegraph
If you're worried about your barn then look at installing a lightening protection system and smoke alarms that you can hear from the house
How lightning protection systems work
When we get bad storms here the alerts advise us to stay indoors - they do not tell you to go and stand outside in the middle of a field
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post #10 of 43 Old 06-29-2016, 12:33 PM
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Mine make their own choices. The mare prefers to be in, and the two geldings prefer to be out. My barn is covered in sheet metal and the stall doors are just metal gates, so unless they stand at the back of the stall they might get struck if lightning hits the barn. Of course, my stalls are 10 X 20, so they have plenty of room to get out of the way of any metal.
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