Wildfire evacuation plan? - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 40 Old 08-06-2017, 05:09 AM
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I used to live and work in the mountains & upper desert of So. Cal. where out of control fires are pretty much a given every year. I used to help evacuate horses out of the burn and out of the path of the fires. The only thing you can really do at this point is to mark them with identifiers and turn them loose in the event you have to evacuate. If you haven't done it already, put important papers in a safe deposit box or other fire safe. Important papers being deed to the house, vehicles, birth certificates, passports, marriage license or certificate, things that are hard or impossible to replace. If a fire does break out near you then pack a bag for 2-3 days for each member of the household, don't forget any medications that need to be taken regularly. When they come and say to evacuate, preferably while it's still considered voluntary (means more time), then load up the car with your suitcases, kids and hubby if he's home, dogs, cats, whatever you're planning to take with you, and once everything and everyone is in the car, go open the gates and let the animals loose if there is time. Then get out of Dodge and don't come back until it's safe. A house and belongings are just THINGS and can be replaced.

Your plan to just load up on Harley and lead Kodak across the stream or even the river, is romantic and absolutely won't work. It's far too dangerous in a chaotic time like an out of control wildfire. Those things burn hot and fast and create their own wind, including a "Firenado" when conditions are right. They also do things like burn through the crowns of the trees, when a fire is crowning it's moving so fast you don't stand a chance. You just can't take a chance on being on a horse when something like that occurs. And add in, if your hubby isn't home, who's looking after the kids while you're trying to ride a horse out of the fire? Human life, first, last and always, as much as it hurts.

Priority should be given to getting a trailer and vehicle that can haul it. I can't stress that enough. When it was fire season in So Cal, I kept hay, grain, water and feeders & buckets in my trailer, ready to go at all times.

When I did evacuations I carried vials of ACE, Xylazine and Dormosadan with me. If the horses were really freaked out, I'd try to tranq them if there was time, if not and they wouldn't load, I had to leave and go to the next lot that would. That was really hard, to drive away knowing they might not get out. In emergencies like fires & flooding there are usually a lot of volunteers who will come and try to take the animals out and take them to either a designated staging point or somewhere safe and then will call in and tell law enforcement something like, "I pulled a small bay mare, a grey gelding and bay tobiano gelding out from XXXX Rd at ZZZZ Rd and took them to 12345 YYYYY St in AAA Town.", so that owners could call in and track down their animals. During one fire I had 60 horses set up in my arena for a month. People just showed up with pipe panels and feed and would come help tend them. So even if you don't have a set plan, people will come to help.

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post #22 of 40 Old 08-06-2017, 08:53 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the suggestions - including telling me it's not realistic to ride a horse out of something like this. I wasn't trying to be romantic, just trying to figure out what I would do. Luckily we are getting rain. It rained last night and is still drizzling. So this will hopefully never be an issue. Still, I like to be prepared.

I am not buying a trailer at this time. There are lots of places that have trailers, but not enough room for all their horses. So they're really no better off. If I buy a two horse trailer and get a third horse this fall, how am I going to decide which one gets left behind? You can't possibly tell people they need trailers that have have enough room for every horse on the property. My two are going to my daughter's coach's place tonight for a week. They have 16 other horses. No way they could get them all out quickly.

My question was how can I take precautions to give my animals the best chance without a trailer. Obviously, if I have time, I can borrow a trailer. Assuming the owner isn't using it, or has time to drop off her horses, then come get mine. If there was a nearby threat, I could even move the horses in anticipation if I had to (a few years back someone in my area had to move her horses because of flooding and everyone helped by taking a few horses in their property).

But my question was really that if it happens very quickly, what is the best course of action? Sounds like spray painting a # on their sides makes the most sense because it can be seen from a distance. Sure, it can get smudged, but if I painted it on both sides of both horses, there is a chance some of it could be readable. Chances are, they would stay together.

I'm looking at those ICE identifiers. They seem like a good idea, although one would have to get close to the horses to access the information inside, but hopefully Harley would eventually let himself be caught.
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post #23 of 40 Old 08-06-2017, 09:22 AM
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You are probably aware of the terrible fires in BC and all over the Pacific Northwest. They've found that spray paint of any kind only lasts so long, but what lasts longest is braiding a piece of neon-colored plastic tape (as used for marking logging areas, construction sites, etc.) into manes, with your contact info written on it. Also microchipping your horses is not a bad idea.

Never turn horses loose with a halter on.

If all you want is an emergency trailer, get a stock trailer. You can squeeze 3 horses in there in a pinch. Get a set of portable corral panels and hang them on the trailer. Presto, you have a way to move your horses and a place to put them once you get them to safety (one can stay in the trailer with all the partitions open).

Where to move them to is, as others have said, a community decision.

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post #24 of 40 Old 08-06-2017, 10:31 AM
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My town catches fire & orders evacuations (& I'm not exaggerating here!!) a minimum of two times a year. Its so dry where I live (California) and I live right by a major freeway that is the main reason for the fires.

Anyway, my community started up an emergency evacuation plan set up across the city. Depending on where the fire breaks, people with trailers & pens go out and gather them and bring them to designated homes certified by the county to host them. I guess they had some issues with that a few years back, so now only homes certified under the "DART" are allowed to collect horses.

Also, i would suggest NEVER to ride your horse if a fire is close by. The smoke FREAKS them out and you'll most likely hurt yourself & your horse. There are usually people driving like idiots & fire trucks & sirens going off all over the place. Not the most ideal time to ride your horse! A lot of people will write their phone number in sharpie or paint on their horses hooves or attach your number & address to their halter. This has been so important, especially for people who have had little to no time to evacuate. They have to just open the gates & pray for the best. :(

The place I board has 3 back up emergency haulers regardless of "DART" as a just in case. Hope that helps!
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post #25 of 40 Old 08-06-2017, 10:44 AM
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I lived in NW Montana for several years.

- Have a trailer with room for the number of horses you plan to get out. You will probably get ONE TRIP out and that includes your family and personal items as well, so if you have too many horses or no trailer, you'll have to either ride them out or turn them loose and hope for the best, which isn't ideal as many horses turned loose end up on the road, where, if hit, they may prevent another family from getting out. Get a cheap stock trailer for the number of horses you think you'll have plus enough room for pets and some household items.

-Spray paint a phone number on the horse, or braid a tag into the mane or tail. If you decide to turn loose with a halter, use a leather one that will break if caught, and won't melt onto the horse's face in heat like nylon will (seen it, not pretty).

- Keep pet carriers, leashes, buckets of food/water, medications, and health paperwork by the door during fire season, or already loaded in your trailer or tow vehicle. Keep extra halters, medications your horses need, and a few days' worth of feed in the trailer.

- Same with totes of personal items-- papers, photos, medications, a few days' worth of clothing, etc.

- Keep your truck and trailer maintained, hitched, and gassed up. During a fire threat (or the entire fire season if you have another daily vehicle), have it turned around and ready to pull out so all you'd have to do is load and go. If your tow vehicle isn't used much, drive it once a week or so to make sure it will start.

- If you do not have a trailer, find a friend with a trailer who might be willing to help if an evacuation order is given and there's time to get someone up there. We hauled out a dozen horses from the North Fork fire for others-- usually families with 6 horses and a 4-horse trailer. One horse we had no idea who he belonged to-- he was running down the road and wearing a halter...slipped and fell and we were able to catch him when he got up, stuck him on the load, and headed out.

I personally would not keep a horse in a fire area without a trailer, but that's just me. Consider your safety if 'riding one out' -- a frightened horse during a fire is not safe to ride. You may have to do the best you can and turn them loose.

We were finding the occasional loose horses throughout the Swan and in the Bob up to a year after the North Fork fire. I suspect there were a lot of horses never found.
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post #26 of 40 Old 08-06-2017, 11:29 AM
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. e. There are lots of places that have trailers, but not enough room for all their horses. So they're really no better off. If I buy a two horse trailer and get a third horse this fall, how am I going to decide which one gets left behind? You can't possibly tell people they need trailers that have have enough room for every horse on the property. My two are going to my daughter's coach's place tonight for a week. They have 16 other horses. No way they could get them all out Quickly.

.
And that is precisely why I have never owned more than four horses --- the number that will fit into my stock trailer. It does not cost any more to pull a stock trailer than a two horse, one just needs to have a heavy 3/4 ton truck or bigger.

People set themselves up for failure-during-disaster all the time, because they don't think things thru when it comes to natural disasters. Thinking things thru in advance does not guarantee safety but it goes a lot further toward safety than doing the nothing-bobbing-dog-head we've all seen in the back window of some old Crown Victoria.

I'm not even getting into the "what about breeders and training barns". It's their problem to figure out not mine. I'm a trail rider, I have never needed more horses than will fit in my stock trailer. A trailer I bought brand new in 1987, still has a rock solid frame with only minimal surface rust, and I could likely still get what I paid for it back then ----- $3,100, as a new stock trailer just like mine is 5-6K.

I'm down to two horses, if I were buying a new trailer in today's world, I would still buy a 4-horse open stock and have it customized to imitate my old one. They don't cost any more to pull than a two horse, if the correct sized truck is attached to them.

A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.

I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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post #27 of 40 Old 08-06-2017, 11:33 AM
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My horses were evac'ed twice this year as we live in BC right in the main hotspot. My daughter and the rest of our family coordinated it all as I am in Vancouver with my husband for a few months after his lung transplant. Fortunately our place is safe for now but with all fires progressing, that could change. She has a rig and I have a rig, and lots of connections of stables so those horses were moved out bingo, bango, boongo!

I am not here to promote anythingNo, that's not true, I am here to promote everything equestrian and everyone enjoying horses!
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post #28 of 40 Old 08-06-2017, 12:24 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by SilverMaple View Post
I personally would not keep a horse in a fire area without a trailer, but that's just me. Consider your safety if 'riding one out' -- a frightened horse during a fire is not safe to ride. You may have to do the best you can and turn them loose.
Right, but I don't live in a "fire area". I'm 46, and have never, ever heard of a major forest fire in our province that affected a residential area. As I explained in my initial post, large fires just don't happen here because we normally gets tons of rain. But suddenly, the fire risk is high, which got me thinking. Luckily, it has rained so hopefully the drought is coming to an end.

I agree - riding the horses out is a bad idea. Harley hates trail rides and Kodak is too spooky. Neither would be dependable enough to ride through such a stressful scenario. I will, however, be purchasing some ID that can be attached to their manes (the ICE one looks good, but they don't ship to Canada so I'll look for a similar product). And yes, I know a lot of people with trailers and would have to hope that there is enough time to borrow one.
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post #29 of 40 Old 08-06-2017, 01:42 PM
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Hopefully the fire threat will die away and things will go back to a more normal weather pattern soon. But it is not at all a bad thing to be ready to get out with little notice. Fires are the worst disaster, in my opinion, having lived through many kinds. The closest I got to mandatory evac was one road away from us. We were on standby. We'd gotten all the livestock out of the valley a couple days before, and most of the people on my road had their vehicles packed and ready. We actually moved out, because we had a place offered to us. But the weather shifted that night, and they got control of the fire the next day.

When the fire guys come to your house, they don't give you a few hours to get your stuff together. They give you MINUTES. Grab your pets and your purse and GO. That's all you get.

Nothing is scarier than a wildfire.

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post #30 of 40 Old 08-06-2017, 02:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avna View Post

Nothing is scarier than a wildfire.
thats the Gospel. I saw planes with the orange flame retardant fly over my home into the Rock hills where I rode my horses, when I lived in SoCal.

I shook thru two 4.-something earthquakes. I still live thru tornadoes and straight line winds in Middle Tennessee.

Nothing scared or scares me more than fire.- unless maybe it's those sink holes somewhere in Florida that keep eating houses---------slowly-------
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A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.

I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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