Tornadoes and Horses

Contributed by: Valerie Mellema, Gray Horse Publishing

Many of our East Texas communities are still reeling from the night of April 29th and the eight tornadoes that touched down in our area. Many horse owners were hit by the tornadoes. Some lost everything, while others had extensive damage. Many horses were able to weather the storm unharmed, while others were lost or seriously injured.

So what do you do in this extreme weather situation? What is safest?

First, it depends on what your horse is used to. Some believe it’s safest to have them in the barn and others believe it is safest to turn them out. Unfortunately, there isn’t one right answer to this situation, as it depends on your pastures as well as what the horses are used to.

For instance, if you have wide open pastures with minimal trees, turning out is a safer option. The horses will be able to run out of the path of the storm if needed. However, if your pastures are heavily treed, the trees themselves could be more dangerous to the horses and the barn may be safer to prevent injury from flying debris. Because tornadoes are sporadic and their paths aren’t predictable, evacuation is usually not an option.

In the event of a tornado, there are steps you can take to make locating your horses easier. One is to put on leather or breakaway halters with name tags and phone numbers. Another option is to write your name and number on their hooves with a marker. Leather neck straps with name tags can also be used. Some farms in Oklahoma have even gone as far as building tornado barns made of indestructible cement blocks and fitted with temporary stalls and supplies.

 "Cocoa" - Photo Courtesy of: Valerie Mellema

"Cocoa" - Photo Courtesy of: Valerie Mellema

If you have barn pets, such as cats and dogs, make sure they have identification on as well.

At Gray Horse Publishing & Marketing, we offer collars in highly visible colors with glow in the dark text. To order one for your pet, click HERE.

There are still many pets that are missing after the East Texas tornadoes and these collars make it easier to find their homes. However, if at all possible, make sure you take all pets with you into tornado shelters.

After the storms have passed, be careful of downed power lines. Stay out of damaged buildings and homes until they are deemed safe by local emergency officials. If your home is undamaged, keep pets inside or take them out on leashes. Shut off electric, gas, and propane to avoid fires, electrocution or explosions. Clean up any dangerous spills immediately. Wear sturdy boots and protective clothing while cleaning up and walking around debris.



There are many emergency situations that can arise, from barn fires to tornadoes or flooding.

Always be prepared with an action plan, no matter what the emergency.

 Valerie Mellema, Gray Horse Publishing

Valerie Mellema, Gray Horse Publishing

Valerie Mellema is the owner of Gray Horse Publishing & Marketing.

She has been in the equine industry for over 25 years and is a published author of multiple horse care books. She is also the owner of Mellema Thoroughbreds, a thoroughbred breeding farm. She shows her OTTB, Mistic Gray, in Hunter/Jumpers. 

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