Hello from the other side.
The other side of Hurricane Irma, that is.
We’re all OK down here in Tampa, Bay, Fla. after Hurricane Irma threatened to wreck some serious havoc earlier in the week. Luckily most of us on the Gulf Coast was spared from the worst of the storm. But our thoughts and prayers go out to those who weren’t — like the Florida Keys, our friends in Naples, Polk & Hardee counties, and even those around Jacksonville.
Back in Tampa Bay, we prepared for the storm as best we could. I chose not to evacuate my horse Mikey, a 6-year-old OTTB gelding, because the farm where I board him at has a concrete block barn and is relatively new construction. Luckily all the horses who stayed were fine. We didn’t flood. No one got hurt or coliced afterward from stress.
We were operating out a barn without power for a little while. But we prepared for that.
During our preparation, we stored hundreds of gallons of water in emergency tanks and buckets. With the on and off again rain, we’ve been able to keep a good supply. Our pasture fencing is fine, but the electric wire was down for days, so turn out was shortened and managed for a few hours each day while people were there to monitor them.
During the prep period, we removed all fans and other needless items from the stalls and the barn aisle.
Just before the beginning of the storm, we began to cut down on the usual amount of grain they were getting. Each horse’s grain intake was cut in half to help reduce the chance of colic, and we added a cup of water to each feeding increase their water intake. We fed as much hay as we possibly could during that timeframe. And after the storm, we’ve been upping their grain slowly back to the usual levels.
He also wore livestock tags braided into his tail and mane with the barn address and contact information, in case he somehow left the barn. Waterproof luggage tags were tied to his leather halter, too.
Personally, I kept Back On Track quick boots on my horse’s legs throughout the duration of the storm. It helped his legs from stocking up from being dormant in a stall too long. I also upped my horse’s electrolyte intake. He was already getting one scoop a day of a homemade recipe I made, but I upped it to three scoops. This also helped encourage him to drink, and kept him cooler and comfortable in the humid, stifling heat of a walled-up barn.
My horse’s stall is the first one when you walk into the barn, so his space was the most at risk of flooding. I piled sand bags in front of his stall to help keep any water out. Afterward, we used that sand to help pad his stall from where he ground down his shavings.
I knew I wasn’t going to be among the first people who would get out to the barn to check on the horses after the storm. So I prepared a slumber party bag for Mikey, which included a variety of products he might need in the aftermath. Included in it was: my Kensington fly mask, Mosquito Halt fly spray, a curry comb and hard brush, ointment for cuts and scratches, a plethora of hoof products, including a diaper and duct tape for wrapping, a hoof pick, and bute, banamine and ace for emergencies. Luckily he didn’t much of any of these things.
The ground is wet and soggy. So I’ve been relying on Keratix products to keep his hooves strong and dry. I recommend the hoof hardner and the hoof gel. Also Eqyss MicroTek spray, which is keeping creeping fungus at bay until we have drier conditions.
There’s a lot to do to “un-hunker” the barn. We’ve go to bring all the tack trunks out of storage, hang fans again, rebuild our jump course. But we’re lucky we were safe. Here’s to happier, sunnier days in our future.