Thursday, April 12, 2012

When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

National Weather Service
We had our first spring thunderstorm pass over our house Tuesday evening.  The thunder boomed and lightning struck repeatedly.   I was startled by a lightning strike that hit extremely close to our house.  It sent me to the windows to look outside for damage.  The barn was ok, but I couldn't tell if  SaraJane was in the barn or out in the dry lot.  Misty is away for training and SaraJane is home alone.  I went to another window  to look for her.  There she was, standing in the rain with her head down in that typical equine-enduring-the-storm stance.   She was standing on a high spot in our dry lot between our house and our next-door neighbor's house.  The picture below is from last year, but this is the spot where she was standing and you can see how close the neighboring house is behind her.

I was worried about Miss SaraJane, standing out in this thunderstorm.  I could lure her into the barn easily with food, but I was afraid to go outside since that last strike was so close.   As I was standing at the window, watching SaraJane and fretting for her safety, I saw lightning strike behind her.  I heard a loud "POP!" and saw the flash.  It was so close that SaraJane reacted as if someone had goosed her in the fanny.    She jumped forward a few feet, trotted a few yards away and began sniffing the ground.  I wondered if she might have felt a tingle from the lightning.

That was a close call, as the lightning struck the house right behind SaraJane.

My neighbor was at her kitchen window when it hit and she saw concrete shingles fly from her roof.  It also took out their well pump, so they've been without water until a new pump is installed today.

It was crazy to actually see a lightning strike that close up.  I'm sure glad it spared SaraJane and that my neighbors are alright. 

Have you ever had a close encounter with lightning? Do you take extra precautions to protect your horses?

June 24-30, 2012 is Lightning Safety Week.  Be informed and be cautious during thunderstorms.  Visit  for information.


  1. Yikes, that is way too close for comfort! I'm glad SaraJane was okay. When I was a teenager I had bathed my horses, stuck them in the barn and left for a BBQ at my grandmothers. We had a huge thunderstorm go over and I found out the next day my neighbors horses had been hit and killed by a bolt of lightening from that storm. I was grateful I had locked mine in the barn or they probably would have been standing out in it too.

  2. Wow, that was some storm. I'm so glad that Sarah Jane wasn't hurt, that was too close for comfort. Good that no one else was hurt at your neighbors also. Lightening is a scary element of nature and I try to stay inside well away from any strikes.

    The only thing I can think of with lightening happened many years ago at a horse show. We were in a giant field when it started, they stopped the show and made everyone dismount. We all made it back safely to our trailers and left after the storm passed. Not very exciting I know, but the horses were very up that day.

  3. Scary! Glad Sara Jane is okay!! I worry about our horses in bad weather...I would put ours in the barn, if we had one. I am happy to say I've not experienced any close encounters of the lightening kind.

  4. Oh, my goodness, I had trouble reading this post. I had to jump ahead to make sure SaraJane was fine. Whew! SO GLAD she and you and your neighbors were all ok.

    On April 18, 1998 my husband, Brian, was struck by lightning! I was pregnant with Maizie and we had just purchased a new wheelbarrow and we were out gardening when we heard lightning. It wasn't raining yet and I ran to get the laundry off the line and Brian ran to save our new wheelbarrow from possible rain. Just then another crack hit and it pulled Brian's hand up in the air and hit his wedding band. He was thrown to the ground and his shoes were blown off his feet. He jumped up and we ran inside the house - freaking out that he was still alive!

    We learned later that most people do not survive a direct hit so the lightning must have hit something first and then hit his ring. The grass was singed where he was knocked down and his shoes were blown to bits.

    We went to the hospital and they recommended an EKG because people sometimes die days later from a blood coagulation from the strike.

    He is fine now, but we are the only family in town who takes lightning seriously. We always flee and everyone else acts like we are nuts.

  5. Holy cow! That is way too close! So glad you are all okay.

  6. So, I started reading your post and... Bammm... I was hearing thunder!
    I am so, so, so glad that SaraJane is OK. That was too darn close!
    We used to have horrific thunder storms in SC. One day, as I drove home, two transformers were hit just in front of me as I drove. First one, then the other. When they are hit, it's like a huge fireworks display - at telephone pole height. Then, as I pulled into our driveway, a tree next to our sidewalk... just about where I was going to park, was hit. I stayed in the car until the storm passed!

  7. RMY, scary...I'm glad your horses were in the barn that time.

    Gray Horse, better safe than sorry. That was good of the show organizers to halt ctivity to be on the safe side. I bet it was kinds scary for everyone as they made their way back to their trailers.

    Thanks aurora. I'd feel better with the horses in the barn too, as long as I'm home to keep an eye on things.

    julliette! My gosh! That's incredible. I'm so glad Brian doesn't have any lingering health issues from that strike. You keep running for cover. You know better than most that lightning shouldn't be taken lightly. They say "lightning doesn't strike twice", but there is a youtube video of a news interview of a man who has been struck 6 times! He's got some impairment, but his sense of humor is in good shape.

    Terry, yes, way too close. Thanks for the good thoughts. I do think SJ felt the strike through the ground, but is perfectly fine.

    Dreaming, wow! It's like you were driving an obstacle course to get through that storm. I bet the transformer show was spectacular. I've not seen lightning actually strike a tree, but a big tree in our neighbor's yard in Kansas was struck during the night and it split in two. The next morning the squirrels were running all over that tree. They must have been reorganizing their stash.

  8. We used to get crazy lighting in AZ when we lived there. One night it was striking in our yard so we decamped to the basement for a few hours. Another time Hubby was walking across a car park at work during a storm and saw a strike hit the ground just a few feet from him. Meanwhile I was over at Costco waiting for it to pass over. I wasn't going to go out in it pushing a metal trolley!

  9. Do your ponies wear shoes? We had lightening strike in the paddock at our last house shortly after moving in. In fact, it struck right where Casey normally stood! Our farrier said we were lucky he wasn't shod as a strike in that small of an area could have killed him, even if it wasn't a direct strike.

    A couple ladies I know here in GA just lost their beloved horses when lightening struck a tree they were standing under. :(

  10. Jacqueline, wow, your hubby was lucky. I would have stayed in the car like you did.

    oregonSunshine, my horses are barefoot, thankfully. That is sad about the horses in Georgia. It happens here occasionally, where a whole herd will be struck dead by lightning. Sometimes there's not a lot that can be done to prevent it.

  11. Wow! Scary! I'm so glad SaraJane was ok and doesn't wear shoes.
    My mare doesn't either, but I often worry about her during our summer monsoons.
    A friend of mine had a dog that was struck by lightning and survived, even though it was never quite the same afterwards.
    I've always enjoyed listening to and watching huge, powerful thunderstorms, but they sure can be dangerous, too.


  12. "when thunder roars, go indoors!" that is SO my motto! only - I can't hear thunder very well - just don't hear those low frequencies. However I've learned to recognize by sight the clouds that produce the thunder! i've had several close lightning encounters and it scares the crap out of me.
    - The Equestrian Vagabond