According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, Hurricane Florence will be the strongest storm to hit the Carolinas in decades. It is expected to come ashore a strong Category 4, possibly 5, on Thursday. Hurricane force winds will extend inland to central North Carolina and Virginia causing massive damage. Forecasters expect the storm to then stall inland dumping historic rainfall between 15 and 20 inches.

Hurricane Florence. Photo Courtesy NBC

WARHorses has compiled information below that we hope will help equestrians in the path of this monster storm.

Equestrian Shelter Options
Mandatory evacuations are in effect and expanding hourly along the Carolina’s coastlines. Equestrians bivouacking inland are encouraged to leave immediately. Below are links to help you safely transport your horses inland.

The following facilities are NOT accepting livestock because they are themselves in the path of the hurricane.

  • Hunt Horse Complex at the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh
  • Senator Bob Martin Eastern Agricultural Center in Williamston
  • Southeastern North Carolina Agricultural Events Center in Lumberton

Hundreds of people across the region are opening their homes and farms for horses, CLICK HERE for an updated list of private homes and farms offering shelter in the east and southeast. This comprehensive list is updated regularly, most recently 9-10-18.

Anyone interested in offering shelter is welcome to contact the list administrator, Eliza LaLuna, or 910-330-0327.

Transporting Horses

North Carolina’s Department of Agriculture has posted several announcements that will affect those transporting horses during this weather emergency including the following statements.

  • North Carolina’s Governor Roy Cooper has declared a state of emergency allowing the Agricultural Commissioner to waive the requirement that vehicles transporting livestock must stop at weigh stations. This act will help those traveling with horses to more quickly reach their destinations.
  • South Carolina has also suspended some requirements for animal evacuations due to Hurricane Florence. Horses transported into the state will be admitted without a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) or a current Coggins test. This temporary order is in place until September 30 unless extended or rescinded.

North Carolina’s Department of Agriculture provides a great deal of up-to-date information for the farming and livestock community preparing for landfall. CLICK HERE for current news and information.

Suggestions If You Must Leave Your Horses Behind

  • Mark your horse with two forms of identification somewhere on his body – secure a luggage tag in his mane or tail, spray paint his coat, use a sharpie on his hooves and write your phone number.
  • Do not halter your horse as they may become entangled in debris.
  • Store anything that can blow in the winds and injury your horse.
  • Use common sense when deciding if your horses are in a barn or turned out. Keep in mind the likelihood for severe flooding and that it maybe weeks before you return home. Don’t allow your horses to be trapped, unable to move to save themselves.
  • Make certain you have a two to three week supply of hay safely stored from wind and water.

Shackleford Wild Horses. Photo Courtesy Carolyn Salter Mason

Preparations for the Wild Horse Residents

North Carolina’s wild horses; the Spanish Mustangs of Corolla, The Wild Horses of Shackleford Banks, Beaufort’s Wild Horses and the Ocracoke “Banker” Ponies will not be evacuated but left in their native environments to ride out the hurricane.

The Corolla Wild Horse Fund manages the herd of the Currituck Outer Banks. The 80-90 horses will remain on the island including 18 horses currently housed in the rescue center.

Meg Puckett, herd manager explains “They have really good instincts. These horses have lived in this area for 500 years. We can already see now, they’re starting to group together. They know where the high ground is. They know where to go.”

A statement released by the Foundation for Shackleford Horses that reside on the Shackleford Banks confirmed those horses will also remain on the island. Managers express concern but have faith that the horses will seek refuge in the dense maritime forest.

As of this posting, the Chincoteague and Assateague area is under a state of emergency requiring only non-residents to leave the islands.

What About WEG?

The FEI World Equestrian Games open today in Tryon, NC, about 300 miles inland. Officials are monitoring the hurricane’s path. As of the latest updated Monday September 10th, the competition is moving forward subject to change as the weather becomes more predictable. Show organizers post regular updates on the website. Visitors may wish to check first before heading to the show, especially for next week’s events.

WARHorses wishes everyone, particularly our horse friends in the hurricane’s path well. You and your horses will be in our thoughts.

Feature Photo Courtesy the Corolla Wild Horse Fund