Helpful Tips - Volume 16, Number 3, July 1998
                                                                                UC Davis

                                         Horses and fire danger

The heavy rains from El Nino resulted in a lush grass cover on the west coast. As the grasses dry over summer, the fire
danger will be acute.  Here are some tips to help horse owners prepare for and deal with the danger of fire.


1.        Take photographs of your horses and prepare written descriptions of each of them. Put these in a safe place such as
a bank safe deposit  box, away from where the horses are kept, so that you can provide identification information to animal
control personnel should your horses become lost or separated from you in a major fire.

2.        Place an identification tag on the horse itself with the horse’s name, your name, address and phone number. Cattle
ear tags can be secured around the horse’s neck and the information written with an indelible ink pen, or write the
information on a piece of duct tape and place it on the halter.

3.        Make sure that all your horse transporting equipment is well maintained and ready to be used on a moment’s notice
and be sure your horses are well schooled in trailer and/or van loading.

4.        You should have a halter and lead rope readily available for every horse. There won’t be time for a return trip

5.        Plan for an alternate exit on foot with your horses if roads are blocked by fire.

6.        Keep the area around your barns and corrals well cleared of brush and other combustible materials (at least 30 feet).

7.        If you must evacuate your horses from a burning barn, close the stall and/or barn doors after you exit. Panicking
horses have been known to run back into their stalls if they get loose during a fire. In major fast moving barn fires where a lot
of horses are involved, you may have to lead the horses out of the barn and turn them loose if as many as possible are to be
saved.

8.        If your horse is burned in a fire, you should seek veterinary medical attention for that animal as soon as possible. A
burn is always a serious medical condition, regardless of how it initially appears. Burns to large areas of the skin allow for
easy bacterial invasion of the body and seriously burned animals usually have damage to their respiratory tract due to smoke
inhalation. Often, the respiratory damage is the eventual cause of death in severe burn patients.

9.        Do not treat your horse with any topical preparations if it has been burned before your veterinarian arrives. The wrong
choice of treatment may do more harm than good.

10.      Take the time to make a plan for what to do in the event of a fire. Discuss the plan with everyone on the farm or at the
stables, so that everyone knows what to do. There won’t be time to figure it out once the fire starts.

Joe's Thoughts -

Horses released onto the public roadways are very likely to be struck by emergency vehicles due to visibilities
being reduced by smoke.  At the very least, they will block the road or driveways and may panic and injure fire
fighting personal (Our friends and neighbors).   In addition, evacuation from the Morgan Territory area by horse
trailers will slow or prevent fire equipment from arriving on scene.  The horses at Rocking Z Stables are in dirt
paddocks with plenty of room to move around.  There are no guaranties, but the safest place for your horse is right
where they are.  If they're in the barn, in an emergency they can be moved to any paddock or to the sand arena.
Horses & Wildland Fires
Rocking Z Stables