It is essential for horse owners to have a plan to protect their horses on severe, extreme or code red fire danger days.
Owners agisting their horses in high risk fire areas might consider moving their horses to a lower risk areas not in close proximity to forest and overgrown vegetation.
Plan to leave early. It is unlikely to be safe to move horses once a fire is approaching the property.
Arrange with friends, other agistees or club members to have a group strategy for moving your horses to safety when there is a high risk of fires.
Do not keep your horses in stables or small yards on high risk fire days. Horses tend to be safer in a large well grazed paddock or any area with minimal vegetation where they can avoid fires if need be. Alternatively a series of smaller paddocks is suitable if all the internal gates are left open but ensure horses are kept safe from any roads.
Make sure your horses still have access to water and food.
Remove all rugs, boots and head collars etc that might be flammable or melt.
Record/take pictures of your horses brands and markings and ensure that all horses are microchipped.
Carefully assess any paddocks that have been affected by fires for broken fences, hot spots, faulty electric fences or contaminated water that may pose a risk before letting any horses return.
Hot weather safety:
Provide fresh, clean water and an electrolyte source.
Turnout at cooler times
Use fans or mist
Provide constant shade throughout the day (sun movement)
Ensure your horse can sweat.
Reduce work load or take the day off
Clip long hairy coats
Recognise signs of heat stroke. It can happen with any sudden increase in temperature when the horse is not acclimatised, working in hot humid conditions or in a float or stable with poor ventilation, metal walls etc.
Signs of heat stoke include:
depression, lethargy, even colic signs. high temp, respiratory rate and heart rate. signs of dehydration- poor crt, poor skin turgor, tacky mucous membranes
Cool horses off by spraying or sponging them with cold/iced water and scraping the excess off their skin straight away.
Most importantly, stay safe.