In wake of the tornado that hit Oklahoma earlier this week, which caused major damage and loss of lives, both human and animal, it reminded me of a tornado that hit my rural area and horse property about 12 years ago.
It was a very hot, humid and buggy summer day. That evening, my daughter wanted to ride, so she went out and started tacking up her horse. Just as she was about ready to mount her horse, I heard a rumble of thunder and looked to the sky in the west. Storm clouds were headed this way.
Thinking that it was just going to be a quick thunderstorm, I yelled out to my daughter to go into the barn with her horse and wait out the storm. My other horses were out in the paddock, hanging out like they normally do.
It began raining. Light at first, then it turned into a heavy downpour. The winds picked up and I heard rumbling. I was in the house, keeping my eye out the window to make sure all was fine. Suddenly, everything outside disappeared. It was like a black cloud came down and covered everything like a blanket. I could not see a thing. I became very worried and nervous about my daughter and the horses.
After a few minutes, but felt like an hour, I was able to see down to the barn and the paddock. Actually, there was no barn. It was gone. I also saw my daughter walking up to the house and my horses were gone from the paddock.
I quickly ran outside to meet my daughter. She seemed shaken, but okay. I then looked for the horses and they were out in my hay field grazing. A friend had stopped by, so we went out to get the horses and bring them over to the house under the deck. We checked them over for injuries. They only had minor scrapes and bruises. Whew!! What a relief!
My next job was to find temporary housing for my 3 horses until I was able to get my barn replaced. This was not as simple as you would think. Finding a place for one horse was no big deal, but for 3?? I contacted several area barns, but none had any room for the 3. (I wanted to keep all of them at the same place to make it easier for myself to take care of them.) I found someone close by that offered her field for them overnight. At least it bought me a little time to find a more permanent temporary place for them.
I next tended to my daughter and got her side of the story. Just as she got into the barn, it began to rain. She noticed all the horses were restless. She was trying to untack her horse and he would not stand still for her. All of a sudden, there was loud rumbling, the building shook, the horses took off through the electric fence and she hit the dirt. (The horses probably thought the building was coming to attack, so they took their chances with the electric fence.) One of the boards hit her on the back of the head. (Good thing she was still wearing her riding helmet.)
Why am I telling you of this experience? Well, the big question is when these severe storms hit, where would the best place be for the horses and livestock: in the barn or loose in the open field to fend for themselves. In my opinion and from my experience, I would say, loose in the open field. They have a sixth sense and can feel the changes, allowing them a better chance of survival. If they were penned up in the barn, who knows what would have happened. Look what happened to my daughter.
It was a terrifying experience for all of us and hope to never go through this again.
So, make sure you have an emergency plan in place for your horses and livestock in case disaster strikes your rural and horse property.