Horse owners are being urged to protect their livestock as they prepare for the bushfire season.
A spokesman from a local company, Australian Pump Industries, said: “The Hills to Hawkesbury region is possibly the most densely populated horse area in the country.
“We are also subject to bushfires that can sweep through at an incredible pace and take even those who are prepared by surprise”
The team at Aussie Pumps has put together a list of its TOP FIVE tips on how to keep horses safe this bushfire season.
Develop your own safety plan and carry out the drills. Understand your equipment, its capability and limitations. Make sure you and your team, understand that the pumps should be fuelled and oiled, and run occasionally, testing your water supply to make sure everything works properly.
Attach hoses, move it to the source of water and get the jet, or jets, coming through the pump nozzles to make sure that it’s going to give you what you want.
If performance is substandard, you know you’ve got a problem, possibly an air leak on the suction side, the most obvious and common fault with under performing pumps.
2. UNDERSTAND THE BATTLEGROUND
This means having your horse ‘safe area’ well established and having the animals familiar with it. It should have primary and alternative access and of course, where necessary, a way out.
3. PREPPING THE HORSE
Experts recommend removing all synthetic material from the animal. That includes lead ropes, rugs, halters, fly veils. Rope halters burn. They are a danger and should be avoided.
Leather or soaking wet canvas halters are a better option but even then, beware of the buckles which can get very hot and cause injury.
We also recommend drenching the horse and soaking the mane and tail with water if you have to pass through or near the fire. Platting the tails may reduce the chance of ignition as well.
Experts also recommend writing a mobile phone number on the haunch of each horse with livestock crayon and removing iron, steel or aluminium shoes. Many horses have an inherent fire instinct. They will gallop along, through or even around the fire front and stand on burnt ground until the fire has passed because of the instinct for self-preservation.
4. SAVE YOURSELF
Since fire fronts move quickly, both through bush and grass, once it hits you there is very little you can actually do. Staying with the horse to comfort it, can have the opposite effect by preventing it from using its own instincts to stay safe. It may also put you in a lot of danger.
The sound of bushfires is deafening and it is highly likely a horse may panic and bolt. Experts recommend “Stand back and give your horse room to run”.
5. BUY THE RIGHT GEAR
If you are choosing to stay and protect your equine friends be prepared. Having a big Rapid Spray 20,000 litre tank filled with water is a good start. Match that with an Aussie Fire Chief, regarded as the world’s best lightweight portable fire pump and equipped with a quality hose and nozzle kit, a crew that is experienced, goes a long way towards providing fire protection.
Aussie Pump’s unique “Fire Survival Guide” is also a good read and should be regarded as essential for anybody who plans to fight, rather than flight.
Only you can make that decision. The reason the team at Aussie put this story together is that they know just how emotional that decision can be.
Be prepared, have your plans laid out quite clearly, make sure your pump is primed and the family or neighbourhood team know the drill. Although they can hope for the best, you should always be prepared for the worst.
Further information is available from Australian Pump Industries aussiepumps.com. au or Rapid Spray rapidspray.net.