Lightning Strikes and Horses

To help safeguard livestock from lightning strikes, learn what lightning likes, then either remove the attractant or remove the livestock. Here’s what you need to know about lightning and horses.
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lightning strikes and horses
Lightning is not just a random event natural killer, but more an opportunist taking advantage of a preferred pathway, Peterlin says. Where lightning has struck a tree in the past, it will likely hit again. | Photo: Thinkstock

If you think lightning never strikes twice in the same place, think again. Albert Peterlin, MS, who once served as the USDA chief meteorolgist, says, “Lightning is not just a random event natural killer, but more an opportunist taking advantage of a preferred pathway. Where lightning has struck a tree in the past, it will likely hit again. An area of pasture that has been deadly once could be again. With lightning, the past is a prologue to the future.”

For horse owners, the message is clear: To help safeguard livestock from lightning strikes, learn what lightning likes, then either remove the attractant or remove the livestock.

Lightning Turn-Ons

Lightning is biased toward tall objects and easy pathways. “The primary goal of a lightning bolt is to seek the easiest pathway to Earth,” explains Peterlin. “Any pathway offering less resistance than air standing between the bolt in the blue and the Earth’s surface is at risk. The most likely area for a strike is toward higher elevations

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Marcia King is an award-winning freelance writer based in Ohio who specializes in equine, canine, and feline veterinary topics. She’s schooled in hunt seat, dressage, and Western pleasure.

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