Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fire Season Came Early

Our lack of snow has really worried me.  As much as I prefer not having the frozen white stuff, it is necessary to keep our state from catching fire.  The high country has had more than their share of white stuff, but down low, we're hurting for moisture and have already had several brush fires.  One is burning thousands of acres just west of the town I live in.

Because of all of the fires (and April just started!), I decided it's time to revisit our evacuation plan for the horses.  They're up in Allenspark, where the fire danger is currently very low, but that can change quickly.  There are only two ways out of Allenspark, down Highway 7 to Lyons or up Highway 7 to Estes Park.

Should evacuation be necessary, Mom and Bill have to get their guests out of the lodge and to safety before they can even think of getting themselves out.  We've decided that in the event of an emergency that requires evacuation, namely fire, we're just going to turn the horses out on the mountain to fend for themselves instead of trying to trailer them out.  That's been our standing plan from the beginning.

The problem is, how do we put identification on them?  We've heard/read all sorts of ideas.  Ranger has a BLM brand, so they could eventually track down Bill.  Estes has Ida's brand, so they can eventually track me down.  But Jesse and Washoe don't have any brands.  We've discussed freeze branding, tattooing and microchipping.  Some of the ideas that we've received are to put them in a halter with an ID tag on it, but the only way we'd turn them loose with a halter on is if it was a break-away one and they might be found without the halter.

I also read about braiding a luggage ID tag into their mane or tail, but that takes too much time in an evacuation scenario.  Or clippering a phone number onto their side, but we don't have clippers and if we did, there wouldn't be any time to clipper four horses before turning them out.

My favorite idea is to use DayGlo Orange spray paint to spray paint our phone numbers on their sides.  Still takes a little bit of time, but seems the quickest.  If we made a template for the phone number that we just held over their side and spray painted, that would even be faster.

What kind of ideas do you all have?  We're open to suggestions, but they have to be fast and easy - something that could be done quickly with potentially worked up horses.

What plans have you made for evacuations?


Funder said...

Leave 'em braided! You should be able to glance at the braids daily, rebraid them maybe once a week. I don't think a thin braid with a light tag would annoy them too much once they got used to it.

Funder said...

I haven't used these guys yet, but they definitely have the best prices I've seen: gotags

Allenspark Lodge said...

Funder, it sounds so simple. I hadn't even thought about just a small braid left in all the time. Even Jesse, who hates braids, could deal with that better than even spray painting. It does mean somebody has to get close enough or get their hands on them to read the tags, where you could read the spray paint from a distance. Thanks for the suggestion.

Funder said...

Yeah, I think just one small braid, maybe mid-mane, would not annoy even the pickiest of horses after he got used to it. :)

I didn't think about how your mustangs might be just fine without people. Dixie would march right up to the first human she came across and demand to be fed real food. Spraypaint + dog tag maybe?

Rachel said...

Wow. Never really thought about that. Because my girl literally comes if she THINKS I want her near me. And she understands English enough that I have to spell things in front of her (I'm only half kidding). So people get her to stop by yelling STAND.

I'm a fan of the spray painting - if you think that can be done quickly - just for the reason that it would be quickly obvious without someone having to be right next to them.

Hoping you guys stay safe.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Gee-Guess the only time I ever had to think of evacuation was when we lived in Arizona and the mountain behind us was on fire. I had more horses than room in the trailer, so I told MH that he would have to haul out what he could to the neighbor's and I would ride and pony the two extras out.

No additional ideas for IDing the ponies for you though. I guess at this point, if some of my horses disappeared...I wouldn't care-LOL (Just kidding)

Momma Fargo said...

I like the braiding idea. Also painless for the horses. I have used a paint before when we had the issue. It wears off and if you do it before the fire danger hits...not the day of evacuation...then your horse looks goofy. However, all the ranchers did it when the mountain fire worked down to the valley. I think the braiding idea is good. Make it visible enough to see and tight enough not to fall out. The material we have used was waterproof like Write In the Rain paper...or plastic with permanent marker.

Merri said...

for endurance rides we use the cattle grease sticks to put their ride #s on their butts. that stuff sticks on there a while. in fact, you can't brush it out and sometimes you can't even scrape it off! the sticks are cheap and come in different bright colors. (of course I can't think of the proper name for them now).
- The Equestrian Vagabond

Rising Rainbow said...

Watching the news with reports of fires in CA I remember seeing horses marked in that manner. Those phone numbers were pretty darn clear for me to see them on the tv screen.

Braiding sounds good but having had a horse loose his entire tail because he got a braid stuck on something, I know no matter how small you make the braid there's chance if the horses go through brush, they could end up pulling them out so for me, I wouldn't consider it to be a reliable as painting the phone number on their sides.

I think of evacuations here but more for flooding than fires. In that case, I'd be transporting horses probably to the park but getting them there would be the thing since I have a 3 horse and 30 head. It could take lots of trips and maybe too much time.

GunDiva said...

Because Ranger is only catchable by a handful of people, the tag for him is out of the question. I like the idea, though.

Bill and I talked about having some of our scrapbookers make us a phone number template on one of their Cricut machines that we could keep rolled around a can of spray paint. If we ever needed to paint the horses, we'd just unroll the template, hold it against the horse and take a couple of swipes with the spray paint. I can't see that Ranger would stand still long enough for Bill to spray a ten-digit phone number on him and the template seems fast and easy.

Now, here's hoping we never have to turn our horses loose on the mountain because of fire.