Residents in farm areas vulnerable to what’s predicted to be a long and dangerous fire season have been warned how they should prepare their horses in the event of an evacuation.
By writing a contact number in black permanent marker across the top part of one of the animal’s hooves, it was suggested owners would be able to be contacted if their lost horse was found.
In a post on Monday, the day before out-of-control fires broke out across rural Queensland and northern NSW, a woman shared the potentially live-saving tip to Facebook.
“Something to keep in mind for all horse people. If you’re caught in the fire areas and you have to leave your horses, write your phone number on their hooves with permanent marker,” she wrote.
She also reminded horse owners to remove everything on the animal’s body to save anything burning into their skin or getting latched onto something else.
“Take off all halters and rugs, these can burn or melt to your horse, or get caught on trees or fences,” she wrote.
“Good luck, and keep safe everyone, it’s going to be a long season.”
While many hailed it as a “terrific idea”, others were sceptical the marking would last through dirt and soot.
“This would take a little stress off with the panic of the fires. Of course I hope no one ever needs to use it. Keep yourselves safe if you are in the fire zones,” one person wrote in a comment.
However others disagreed, arguing there were more efficient ways to make horses identifiable in a crisis situation.
“Not a good idea. It comes off too quickly, the horses could be agitated and imagine a non-horse person trying to get close enough to read it. Instead write it on their body with a paint or a type of crayon,” someone wrote.
Advice issued by the Queensland Rural Fire Service also warned people against marking their horse’s hooves, instead encouraging the use of a grease crayon to write a name and number on larger, more visible parts of their body.
The QRFS recommended horses be microchipped or branded, as it made them easily identifiable.
“If your horse is not chipped or branded, write your name and phone number on your horse - preferably with a grease crayon. Make sure you have a photo with you and your horses in case you need to prove ownership,” the website states.
A post from the Country Fire Authority shared some relevant information on Tuesday, reiterating that advice to write a contact number on the horse’s hoof was misguided.
“This is not the current or best advice. The current advice is to write a mobile number in very large figures on the body of the animal,” the post read.
“This results in two things: the numbers are far less likely to rub off, and no one has to approach a potentially stressed out and agitated large animal to see the number. Everyone is therefore much safer.”
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