Fire is a whole new realm of danger for a girl coming out of soggy New England. Out in the flat, bone-dry climate of Northeast Texas, fire is a serious issue and not even in the dead of winter can it be escaped. (By dead of winter, I of course mean 60 degrees and beautifully sunny, but you know.) Everything is seriously dry out here, and the wind howls pretty much nonstop, so we have a seemingly neverending burn ban for the entire area. What happened today was purely accidental; someone down the road was welding and a single spark escaped onto the grass beneath his truck. Before he knew what was happening, the whole area was on fire and spreading fast. The winds today were blowing steadily at somewhere between 20-30mph, and the fire spread from the grass to nearby roundbales, trees and buildings. I had just handed a horse off to my boss to go ride, and she hadn't been out of the barn for more than 5 minutes when one of our own welders who was there putting in new pipe paddocks came sprinting into the barn. "Brush fire," he breathed. "She said put halters on all the horses and get ready." I tossed halters on all the horses in the barn, and trotted out to see what was going on outside. The neighbor's property was lightly smoking, and I could see my boss and her horse stopped at the far edge of our property, watching intently. Without warning, the fire engulfed a metal barn, and huge clouds of billowing black smoke exploded into the air. I could see loose horses galloping wildly around near the blaze, and for a moment didn't know what to do. I had never seen anything like it. Then my boss, whose house burned completely to the ground just a few months ago, appeared at my side to give direction. In a heartbeat, we had her rig hitched and pulled forward, the welder's truck hitched to the other trailer, halters and boots on all the horses, and all six of them loaded, along with all our important tack. The smoke billowed higher and blackened, firetrucks roared onto the scene, and still the neighbor's horses galloped. We stood at the back of the loaded trailers, dogs all in the trucks, waiting to see if the wind would change. Our property backs up to a river, and the prevailing winds almost always take flames away from us. We were lucky this time, although we might not be out of the woods yet. Roundbales are still burning, and the blaze isn't totally contained even now. The fire flanked the road for a good long way on my drive home, and the charred damage path spread nearly a mile. Trees, fences, buildings and more were all totally destroyed. If the wind changes at all tonight, we might very well be totally screwed.
This is the one thing that terrifies me about keeping my horse where she is. If a single spark catches in her field, the blaze will be instantly out of control and she'll have nowhere to go except over or through a fence. She is probably smart enough to jump out over a fence, but I don't think I can guarantee that. Nobody is there at that property during the weekday, so I'd never know about it until it was too late. Same goes for tornadoes... and there is NOTHING you can do if a tornado drops in the middle of her field. Fires and tornadoes are real and serious threats in my area, and truth be told, they kinda freak me out. Okay, they REALLY freak me out.
I guess I know what I absolutely need to do ASAP.... microchip my horse. If a fire takes out my field, everyone tells me to just open the gate and let her loose. Better a loose horse than a charred dead horse. God knows that plain dark bay horses around here are a dime a dozen, and she needs a way to be identified should something happen. Aside from a distinctive freezebrand, a microchip is probably my best chance at not losing her forever should something terrible happen.
Anyone have any fire/tornado/disaster recommendations?