Barn managers and horse owners are special breeds of people. These women and men have dedicated themselves to the health and care of animals which dwarf them in size and weight. These are the people who rise before dawn to feed, do night checks when most of the working world are fast asleep, and when asked about their social life, respond with blank stares. (What’s a social life?)
These barnyard saints place the health and safety of their horses above their own—personal needs come last. These are the people who have their vet on speed dial instead of a best friend. They know which horse likes sugar cubes and which one prefers carrots. They can create anything out of bailing twine and a little duct tape. They are prepared for the unexpected at all times. But even the strongest and youngest must sleep, and it is during those times when we worry the most.
We have been devastated to hear of a series of heartbreaking barn fires and horse thefts in recent months. Not only a source of livelihood for many, our horses are our best friends and our confidants—the feeling of a soft muzzle blowing out air in your hair can turn the worst day into the best one. Whenever something happens to our equine friends—intentional or unintentional—the barn managers and owners feel the worst and often wonder “what if…” What could they have done differently to prevent tragedy?
Before tragedy strikes, it's important to have a plan and procedure in place for various emergencies. An evacuation plan should be at the top of your list: fire, flooding, and other natural disasters can sometimes force barn evacuations. Create a document where you have important numbers, like your vet, fire, and other emergency contacts, so they are easy to find. Include a map of your barn property and the surrounding roads, and designate areas where horses will be placed if evacuation becomes necessary. In an emergency like a barn fire, horses must be safely and quickly evacuated and corralled in a safe area away from danger. It is also important to make sure that you have accurate records for every horse, so when tragedy strikes, horses can be counted and their identities verified. Your emergency plan should also include the numbers for every owner, so they can be notified and assured that their horse is safe and emergency personnel are on the scene. They should also be asked not to come until after the immediate emergency has passed so as to not interfere with fire or other first responders.
There are also ways to help become alerted before a minor issue turns into a large one. Barn managers have access to multiple apps today for keeping horse records, enabling them to select on that works the best for their barn. NIGHTWATCH® and its technology help provide a shield to protect your horse, alerting you at the first signs of danger or distress—whether from internal or external sources. We want to help every barn manager feel confident that emergencies can be acted upon with no time lost, and implement procedures that can save time—and lives. NIGHTWATCH® is a second pair of eyes and ears when we cannot be there.