Monday, June 4, 2012

Tough Turnout : Thunder and lightning I

Turning out horses is a nice enough job -- except when the weather is iffy.  At my current barn, whoever is working makes the call about turnout, but the barn practice is to turn out unless storms/lightning are certain. Horses are turned out in rain unless it is unusually cold. It may sound hard core but our horses LOVE their turnout, and we've never had problems.

Making the call
When storms are a "sure thing" (70-100% chance)  making the call to leave them in is easy.  When it's 50% or less, or "isolated thunderstorms," or if your local weather defies prediction (Eastern PA!), the decision can be agonizing. I  check the hourly forecast, I ask other horse owner friends what they're doing, I look at the radar map -- it's still the ultimate crap shoot.

"I'll never do that  again!"
Last summer, I was  "night turnout girl" at the barn. One night, I was waffling about turnout--heavy rains possible--but the skies looked fine, and after talking to the barn owner we decided to turn out.  While I was walking the second pair of twenty horses to the pasture, it started  pouring, pelting rain. I  had no rain gear with me. By the time I was done I looked like I'd just emerged from a lake. My elastic-waist shorts would not stay up, and I had to borrow a change of clothes just to get home.   I missed a dinner engagement that night--I swore "never again" will I go through this. I've learned my lesson, yup!

Or so I thought. Fast forward to June 3, 2012. Stay Tuned for part II...


  1. It's been crazy here. Storm one minute, clear skies the next.

    I have opted to let the Boys choose in or out despite the storms. A farmhouse not too far from here was supposedly struck by lightning last night and burned down. So, would I want the Boys locked in the barn? Then again, the pasture is on an open hill. Do I want them out there?

    I too have spent hours watching the forecast and the skies. It's a never ending worry this time of year.

    I am awaiting part 2 of the narration. If your weather has been like ours--and I think it has--it should be an interesting story. *sigh*

  2. I once had to bring horses in during a thunderstorm (rain, hail, lightening). I walked into the paddock of this Mustang gelding who is definitely tame and broke but still a little 'rough around the edges.' He had his back to me and couldn't hear me approach him over the noise of the storm. I ended up startling him and he turned around and ran past me right out of his paddock! Thankfully he pretty much ran straight to the barn and into his stall. Never had anything like that happen to me before or since!

  3. This is an interesting topic for me personally. My husband works in Emergency Management/Preparedness and is an ammy meteorologist (he's taken the forecasting program from Penn State and recieved a certificate but has had a life-long passion for weather) as part of his work. The GA Int'l Horse Park actually contacted him recently to help them assess their needs and develop a plan for "what do you do if the weather....?" He and another colleague have talked about his visit to the GIHP and what their knowledge base is... and they think offering a class -- something a local riding club, venue, etc could host or sponsor-- is probably the best way to inform that particular demographic. There are MANY free, on-line tools out there, but if you don't know where to look or how to use and interpret them, they aren't much help.

    Curious to know if other horse owners/barn managers/show organizers/BTB readers would participate in this kind of class. 2-ish hrs, with a minimal cost (maybe $50 per participant). Call it research!


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