One Bolt of Lightning Kills Three Horses in South Carolina

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The old saying we all grew up with was "Lightning never strikes the same place twice." But there's no old saying about how many lives a single lightning bolt can take when it only hits once.

How about three nice big healthy Quarter horses, for starters? That's how many equine lives were lost on Friday when a wild line of squalls ripped through Anderson County, South Carolina. The sky cracked open over Welcome Ranch and owner Lisa Cromer watched three horses fall over dead in her pasture as the ground shook and the sound of an explosion filled the air.

I am very sorry for Lisa's loss, but I have a feeling that this weekend's wild weather may have taken other destructive tolls on horse farms along the east coast. I'm sure we will hear more as Monday morning's news takes shape. It sounds like New Jersey is sinking, Pennsylvania is melting, New York is blowing away and here in New England, it's still raining so hard we can't really tell what damage has been done. Except...what's that lobster buoy doing on my front lawn? And didn't I have four chairs around that garden table?

Here's a good blog post to read about lightning strikes and horse trailers--in 2008, six polo ponies in New Jersey were hit at once and fell over like dominoes--and the medical effects of lightning strikes on human health.

One thing you should know: being struck by lightning is almost always fatal to a horse. If possible, bring horses in when storms approach. In this era of horses living out 24/7 for the health benefit of it, that may be difficult, if not impossible. Some people advise against lone trees in paddocks, but that may be your horses' only shade! Perhaps fear of lightning is the reason why there are no shade trees in the paddocks at the Kentucky Horse Park!

You could ask your extension agent about running a wire from the top of your tree to the ground; this will supposedly act like a grounding wire. Some of the most beautiful farm antiques found in rural America are the old glass lightning rods; whether your farm buildings have beautiful old ones or utilitarian new ones, make sure they have them!

And for horse trailers, make sure the horse is not standing on a metal floor. Always use rubber mats. I wonder if you could put a lightning rod on the roof of a horse trailer...