A BUSH FIRE SURVIVAL PLAN FOR YOUR HORSE

As the weather continues to heat up, with little rain forecast and extreme fire risk conditions set to continue, the threat of bushfire is real and a survival plan for your horse a must.

Don’t put yourself and others at risk by attempting to rescue your horse, livestock or other pets at the last minute. 

Last minute decisions may end in tragedyGive everyone, including your horse, the greatest chance of survival by preparing a Bush Fire Survival Plan with your family.  Remember to discuss your plan with your neighbours and other horse owners in your area; and make sure that everyone connected with your property is aware of your plan and knows when to put it into action. Review and update your Bush Fire Survival Plan on a regular basis.

The NSW Rural Fire Service has an excellent fact sheet on preparing your horse for a bushfire

   Prepare-your-horse-for-bush-fire

A horse’s natural instinct “flight response” is to run from danger which includes bushfire and they will quickly move to burnt ground to survive.

Horses are quite good at avoiding bushfire if:

  1. They have enough room to move freely and get a good gallop up in a large open space
  2. There is minimal vegetation in the large open space.

On Severe, Extreme or Catastrophic fire danger day/s, move your horses to a designated safer paddock or area. This may be:

  • A large eaten out (bare) paddock
  • A series of smaller connected bare paddocks with the internal gates (only) left open.
  • A large well fenced sand arena, provided there are no buildings or vegetation close by that could catch fire.

This designated area will have a substantial water supply, exclusive of automatic waterers as they are easily damaged by fire and may stop working. Ideally the safer paddock will have a dam in it where the horse can also seek relief from the heat. Your horse should be familiar with the planned safer place.

A horse may panic if confined, so locking your horse in a stable or holding yard is not recommended.

Importantly, do not let your horses out on the roads as not only will they  be in more danger from traffic and fire, a loose horse/s on the road creates further hazards for emergency services.

It is paramount to remove all gear, including rugs, fly veils, boots, halters and head collars from your horses.

Some gear may melt or become very hot and cause serious burns, or get caught on fences.  Embers landing on rugs may cause the rug to catch on fire and the horse will not be able to get the rug off.

Permanently identify your horses by microchiping or branding them.

If your property isn’t safe – Move your horses to a safer location before a fire starts. Once a fire has started, it is unlikely you will be able to safely move your horses to another location. Bushfires can travel quickly, visibility will be poor and roads will be dangerous, and sometimes inaccessible.

Options for safe places include – showgrounds (ie Moss Vale Showground) – saleyards – racetracks – pony club grounds – public reserves – property of family or friends.

Prepare an Emergency Survival Kit for your horse.

Keep the kit in an easy to access place and check it periodically. It is a good idea to label the kit with the date you packed it and the next date you want to check it.

Include a list of phone numbers for:

  • neighbours with horses
  • horse transport companies in your area
  • club contacts (pony club, dressage)
  • local stock suppliers, vets and farriers

ITEMS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR KIT

  • wire cutters & a sharp knife
  • waterproof torch
  • container for water ie bucket and drinking water
  • feed including chaff or hay
  • extra lead rope and halter (leather is safer during a fire)
  • woollen blankets, clean towels, blindfolds
  • leg wraps (pillow wraps and stable bandages)
  • adhesive cloth tape & duct tape
  • copy of important papers such as ownership, pedigree, membership &  insurance and a photo of you & your horse in case you need to prove ownership
  • pliers or nippers (to pull nails)
  • temporary fencing and hammer (star pickets and bunting, or electric fence)
  • FIRST AID KIT INCLUDING
  • cotton wool/combine
  • self-adhesive bandage (vetrap)
  • gauze pads (assorted sizes)
  • sterile wound dressing
  • tweezers
  • scissors
  • rectal thermometer
  • surgical scrub and antiseptic solution
  • wound ointment
  • antiseptic spray
  • syringes
  • non latex gloves
  • eye wash

Remember the best chance of survival in the event of a bushfire is for you and your horse is to be prepared and to act on bushfire information.

 

Local bush fire information sources include –

o NSW RFS website www.rfs.nsw.gov.au

o Bush Fire Information Line 1800 NSW RFS (1800 679 737)

o Fires Near Me (smartphone application)

o Local media

PREPARE                    ACT                     SURVIVE

 

References

1.Rural Fire Services NSW – https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/resources/factsheets

2. Country Fire Authority Victoria – https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/horses-and- bushfires

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