Thursday, July 24, 2014

Trail Riding and Lightning Storms

With summer upon us and the possibility of thunder storms a sure thing, we should all take pause and review all of the precautions necessary for our safety as well as our horse.  If you trail ride, you have most likely checked the weather forecast before you head out for the day or planned a camping trip. 

Many times summer storms are no more than a nuisance, but when severe weather and thunder storms are predicted it is time to take heed and make the decision on whether to ride or stand down.  As we all know, being horseback is one of the most dangerous positions to be in when a storm blows in. 

However, we all know that we can’t always predict the weather and will at some point in time get caught out and about with our horse.  When that happens, the weather forecasters and experts recommend the following:

·         Dismount from your horse immediately.
·         If you need to tie up your horse, tie the horse to a bush, never a tree.
·         Avoid at all costs open fields, the top of a hill or ridge.
·         Stay clear of tall, isolated trees or other tall objects. 
·         If you happen to be camping with your horse, set up camp in a valley, ravine or other low area.  Your tent will provide no protection from lighting.
·         Stay away from water, river beds or wet ropes or metal objects such as fences or poles.  Water and metal are excellent conductors of electricity and the current from a strike will easily travel long distances.
·         If you are trailing your horse, pull over and make sure that the ramp is up and nothing is touching the ground. 

In closing, the following are a few facts about thunder and lightning storms.  Hopefully, we have given you enough information and piqued your interest so that you will put a plan in place as you trail ride this summer.  Bring the topic up to your riding club and appoint a storm leader so that when the unforeseeable happens, you have a plan in place and can act.  By the way, I ALWAYS brought my horse to the barn if a storm was in the forecast.  A pastured horse is in grave danger during a lightning storm. 

Facts from NOAA:

·         When lightning passes through air it can heat the air to 50,000 degrees F (about 5 times hotter than the surface of the sun!
·         There are approximately 25 million lightning flashes every year.
·         The sound of thunder travels about a mile every 5 seconds.
·         If you count the seconds between flashes of lightning and the crack of thunder and divide by 5, you get the number of miles away the lightning has struck (10 seconds is 2 miles). 

Ride Safe and Happy Trails!