Last Updated on April 29, 2022
If you live in an area that is at high risk of storms, you might consider building a horse tornado shelter. Keeping yourself and your animals safe during tornado season is a huge worry, and it is a good idea to plan ahead. Let’s take a look at the best ways to protect your horse during a tornado.
What Is A Horse Tornado Shelter?
A horse tornado shelter is a purpose-built building designed to house horses during a tornado. These are built to specific regulations, designed to withstand the high winds and flying debris seen during a tornado.
There are many different types of horse tornado shelters, but the basic principle is that it should be an incredibly strong building built to withstand an F5 tornado – the highest rating on the tornado scale. It normally houses the horses in a stall arrangement, where they are separated with partitions. Each horse is tied up in its stall, with access to hay and water.
How To Protect Your Horses During A Tornado
If you do not have a tornado shelter, it can be a difficult decision trying to figure out how to keep your horses safe during a tornado. Do you leave them in a stall or barn, or turn them out into the paddock? Or should you try and move them to somewhere safe?
The important thing to remember is that there is no one solution that is right for everyone. Both you and your horse-owning neighbors will be weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of where to put your horses when the storm passes over. Even a horse tornado shelter has some risks but is the safest option if you are able to build one.
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Barn Or Paddock
The biggest dilemma is whether to keep your horses in the barn or to turn them out into the paddock.
The advantage of the barn is that horses are safe from flying debris, but the barn may collapse and injure the horses. The horses are also unable to escape to safety as the storm approaches.
A barn may be able to withstand a smaller tornado, such as an F1 or F2, but most barns will be crushed by an F4 or F5. Wood and metal barns are much less robust than those built from brick and concrete.
Horses that are turned out in a paddock have a greater chance of evading the path of the storm, especially if they have a large field. However, they could be injured by flying debris or falling trees, or they could escape from the paddock and run into trouble elsewhere.
Generally, it is safer to turn a horse out during a stronger tornado than risk them getting trapped inside a damaged barn.
If you are considering evacuating yourself and your horses, this is a risky move that requires careful consideration. Most tornados cannot be outrun, especially if you are towing a horse trailer. They can also change direction quickly and alter speed, so unless you have very early warning it is normally better to stay put.
Read more about Horses And Fireworks – How To Solve This Difficult Problem
How To Prepare Horses For A Tornado
If a tornado is forecast, there are some things you can do to make things easier both during and after the storm.
Put breakaway head collars on all of your horses, so that they are easier to catch if they do escape. Fit each headcollar with a tag giving your contact number and zip code. Alternatively, write your details in grease pen on the body of the horse, in case the head collar is pulled off.
Make sure that your horse’s microchip registration details are up to date, with all of your current contact numbers. Have up-to-date photos of your horses handy in case you need to search for escaped horses after the tornado.
If your paddock is divided into smaller sections with temporary electric wire, remove this to make the area as large as possible. The larger the area, the better chance your horse has of staying safe.
Make sure that any large objects that could injure your horse are tied down or removed. Some flying objects in a tornado are inevitable, but it is a good idea to limit this risk as much as possible.
If you have a choice of turnout areas, go for the largest one with the fewest trees. It is also a good idea to have a backup plan for accommodation for your horse, in case your fences or barns are damaged and need repair work.
Summary – Horse Tornado Shelter
So, as we have learned, a horse tornado shelter is a reinforced building that is able to withstand the fiercest of tornados. Horses are restrained inside the shelter in a stall-like arrangement, with partitions separating each horse. They are restrained at the head and have access to food and water.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about a horse tornado shelter! Do you have an escape plan in place if there is a tornado warning in your area? Or maybe you’ve got questions about how to keep your horse safe during a storm? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
How Do Horses Act Before A Storm?
Some horse owners say that their horse owners act differently before a storm, while others notice no difference at all. You might observe your horse becoming more restless and behaving more unpredictably.
What Do You Do With A Horse In A Tornado?
In a tornado, the safest place for a horse is normally out in a large paddock. This gives the horse to move away from the path of the storm.
Are Horses Safer In A Barn During A Tornado?
Horses are generally not safer in a barn during a tornado, as they are unable to move to safety if the tornado path comes their way. If the barn is damaged during the tornado, the horse may become trapped or injured by falling debris.
Why Do You Let Horses Go In A Storm?
In a severe storm, it is considered better to let horses go as they have a higher chance of moving to a safe area. A horse trapped in a barn or stall may also panic and injure themselves.
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse
care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since
she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local
stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She
has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in
various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the
patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went
on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in
the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of
horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for
educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN REVN RVN A1