View Full Version : Horses and lightning strikes

25-08-13, 07:20 PM
So as not to highjack the 'What a Dressage Test' test.........

I have sometimes wondered, are you worse off with a shod horse if caught in a storm where lightning is happening? Not an issue now, unshod these days, but the answer is not necessarily, these guys were barefoot, but in wet ground with wet legs..... must have been horrific - lucky the outcome wasn't worse. The lightning exited via eyes and mouths....


We lost a couple of Angus cows a few years ago to a lightning strike, they were standing under a tree which was struck, unfortunately with hoofs touching big roots on the ground. I love storms but wouldn't ride in one by choice any more......not that we do usually!

26-08-13, 11:59 AM
My understanding is that rubber booted horses are ok but bare & shod are not. Several spelling gallopers & TB broodies have been lost to lightning :(

26-08-13, 12:25 PM
The roots don't even need to be on the surface for animals to cop a whack from lightning. I thought mine were dead once from a strike that gave us a direct hit. Went outside at midnight while the storm was still going to find my Clydie with a big hole in her side. Not directly from the strike but she had landed on a star picket, that fortunately was capped but still punctured her resulting in 60 internal stitches and it was touch and go for awhile, lost 8 litres of blood.

I then conducted a lot of research on what to do with them during a storm and there isn't much. Perhaps put them in a stable complex that also has lightning rods attached to reroute the lightning but if its powerful enough these aren't all that affective. I aim to put them in the lowest ground area I have between the hills but not where water rests as this is also a conductor. I try and reduce the number of very tall trees in the a number of paddocks so i have a choice of where they can go.

A lot of the research is done in the states and of course they have a lot of wood barns, that then catch fire due to the strike. It appears that metal barns are better as long as they are earthed properly - that surprised me!

26-08-13, 12:27 PM
I have known all types of horses to have been affected by lightening strike not just TBs. The consequences have been variable.

I was also involved in a case where a horse was electrocuted 3 times severely by an unearthed underground cable. The horse was barefoot and being walked in hand by the owner who was in rubber gumboots... She didn't get a shock amazingly given the huge voltage involved. The horse was severely traumatised by the event and was never the same...he also went grey around his extremities within a week and had an ongoing cardiac arrhythmia. Sadly he had to be retired from ridden work as he was very nervy after.

I have also treated horses that have been caught up in electric fences that haven't broken so with repeat " zapping"... Some unshod others shod.

Please don't tell me this will be another trigger for a barefoot versus shoe arguement?! ;-)

26-08-13, 02:20 PM
I don't know about your horses, but ours always stand out in the middle the paddock if its stormy, or huddle on the sheltered side of our sheds, so they are nowhere near trees. Been lucky and had no accidents involving storms or electricity and horses.

26-08-13, 06:01 PM
I have a friend who was checking QH broodmares and saw the stallion hit. Left a scorch mark on his tail and four hoofprints on the ground and one instantly dead animal. Unshod.
Not the first time stock have been struck near this friend.
Moral of story, don't stand near Garry in stormy weather.

26-08-13, 10:03 PM
Over a lifetime we have lost a couple of horses in lightening strikes, but not by the lightening iteslf - lightening hit tree, limb came down, killed horse.
However , and I am happy to be corrected, from my limited understanding of electric strikes, rubber boots "may" save you or the horse, but shod or unshod wont make any difference at all - both conduct just as well - just as likely to be dead, sorry to say.

G Dog
27-08-13, 09:21 PM
Direct strike nothing will stop.Rubber/plastic boots steel shoes or not.At that voltage rubber/plastic will conduct.Even if it doesn't the electricity will arc and 10mm of boot won't do a thing.
This isn't 240v from the power point.Electricity needs an entry and the easiest exit.
An indirect strike is a bit different and some kind of boot or plastic shoe would help if it was on dry ground but not wet and at a fair distance from the strike.
Personally in a lightning storm on a horse is the last place I want to be no matter what is on their hooves.They are often the tallest point in a paddock with you on board even better:)