View Full Version : Guardian Angels working overtime - my barn was struck by lightning today!

Aug. 7, 2010, 09:51 PM
This was one of those bad stormy days here, and I was doing my best to get chores done between storms. I closed the horses into their stalls, drove the truck into the barn aisle to unload the hay, grain and shavings. I had just finished unloading, moved the truck up (so I could use the bed as a step ladder to replace a light bulb), when the storm started.

Well, the barn got hit by lightning. This of course freaked the horses out, and my young mare made a charge at the closed stall door, and got herself hung up by the throat in the V of the gossip door - and she was literally choking, could not breathe. I could not get the door open, could not lift her head off the door. Somehow, she managed to get herself free. I didn't dare just let them out of the barn because the pasture gate to the driveway was open. Lightning was hitting all around us.

The poor mare was snorting and kept shaking her head, and the other two were equally freaked out. It took about 10 minutes for the storm to pass.

Amazingly, the mare is okay, just a few minor scrapes on her jaw. Equally amazing is that she is not terrified of the barn.

And I kissed my husband when he got home, because he had lightning rods put on the barn 6 years ago. I probably would not be here to tell you about it if we didn't.

Our well got knocked out, two fans in the barn no longer work, circuit breakers tripped in various rooms in the house and the barn, killed the satellite cables, and my husband is killing himself trying to get his various computers back up and running (he was gone when all this happened).
So, now I know how PTS victims feel, because now the sound of thunder is tying my stomach up in knots. Storms didn't really scare me too badly until today.

And I am thanking my guardian angels for looking out for me and my animals today. I will definitely not take a storm warning lightly ever again.

Hope everyone else is safe out there.

Zu Zu
Aug. 7, 2010, 09:57 PM
Jingles for you and your family = house and barn ~ how frightening :eek: ~ glad all humans and critters are fine ~ Jingle Jingle Jingle & AO Always Optimistic ` you do seem to have much more than your fair share of "excitement" for lack of a better word...

Aug. 7, 2010, 10:08 PM
Munchkin-Thank heavens you took the precautions you did and you are all safe!

And trust me that you will always be a little more conscious of the lightning threat in the future, and I don't mean terrified, but that you won't take the threat for granted, or do things that are risky involving the threat. I had a house fire from a lightning strike almost three years ago and I still get teased by people that think it's silly that I take the precautions recommended to minimize the strike danger to me and to the house. You might have to get the computer modem replaced, since they are very vulnerable to electric surges like a lightning strike. I don't think I'll ever take the danger from lightning for granted, and I don't think you will either.

Aug. 7, 2010, 10:12 PM
I'm so glad you and all your animals are okay. Also very glad your barn is okay! Lightning burned a barn to the ground on our property not just once, but twice (before we owned it). We had a huge storm yesterday with lots of lightning and I had to just wait it out and pray that none of those lightning bolts would strike our buildings or horses who were outside. It was some of the most brilliant flashes I've ever seen - beautiful but so scary.

Aug. 7, 2010, 10:29 PM
Glad that everyone is ok and on their feet.:eek:

We also have some fierce storms at times and I go into hiding, I don't like it either.
Growing up in the mountains, I have seen enough lightning strikes close enough to take them lightly.:no:

Stay safe.:yes:

Aug. 7, 2010, 11:08 PM
OMG MM, how absolutely terrifying. I am glad everyone is alright.
Oh, I just can't imagine the terror you and yours went through.
Yes, guardian angels are good things.

Aug. 7, 2010, 11:33 PM
How scary!

I was in Florida once for a clinic- just finished my ride on a VERY skittish, jumpy 4 year old and was hosing him off on a slippery concrete washrack when a bolt from an afternoon storm hit the trees right behind him. All I saw was a flash of light and a crack. Young horse practically sat down, but for some reason I am eternally grateful for, didn't bolt, or he probably would have skidded off the concrete and taken me down with him. We were both shaking after that.

Aug. 7, 2010, 11:38 PM
:eek: Glad everyone is OK! Funny, my trainer was over at my farm today and commented on the lightening rods on my barn-- we had them put on house and barn last year. Our farm is basically one huge field (a few hundred acres of field) and we got some really scary storms two years ago. Scary enough that I insisted we do the rods. Hopefully they never get used!

Long Spot
Aug. 7, 2010, 11:40 PM
WOWEEEE! Scary stuff for sure! So glad everything turned out ok. Hope your mare isn't too sore tomorrow! What a close call.

Aug. 7, 2010, 11:46 PM
Thanks everyone. I guess I am not done in the bad luck department. I just did my motherly chaufering duties to take my daughters friends home, and at the last stop, I shut off the truck to go in and chat, and the damned battery on the truck was dead! So, amazingly, 5 people pushed the truck so that the husband could jump start it, and I made it back home, and parked it so I can easily replace it tomorrow. I just hope it is not a fried alternator.

So far the mare seems fine, I do keep checking on her.

The dogs were totally freaked too. When I finally got back to the house, one dog was in my daughters bathtub (her bathroom is the tornado room actually), one dog squeezed into a tiny spot under an end table, I don't know where the other two were hiding.

I am counting my blessings, that no one was seriously injured, and the damaged equipment can be repaired.

Aug. 8, 2010, 01:22 AM
so scary! jingles for your mare and thanks to your gaurdian angel!

5 horses were killed up here (Georgia) a week or so ago by lightning and to say that it has changed the way we thought about storms is an understatement!

how hard was it to do the rods on your barn? is it a DIY thing or a professional only sort of job?

Aug. 8, 2010, 09:08 AM
Skip-you need to have professionals install lightning protection because it's not a 'one size fits all' thing. Some places require different grounding procedures and configurations because of the soil type, plus your insurance might give you a discount for professionally installed rods, but I doubt would do so for do-it-yourself.

Years ago a friend was driving home in a lightning storm on an elevated road. His wife reached forward, turned off the radio, and then BAM! Their truck was struck by lightning. It left scorch marks all down the sides, blew the antenna off into the desert, and left a huge hole where the antenna had been. The engine started sputtering when they would slow down, and they limped into their local mechanics shop. The electrical system was fried, and after they replaced the damaged stuff, and fixed the body work they traded it in. A few months later they ran into a man who was driving behind them, and he confirmed it was a direct hit.

Zu Zu
Aug. 8, 2010, 11:46 AM
Morning Jingles for MunchkinsMom and her family to have a quiet UNEVENTFUL Sunday ~ Jingles & AO ~ Always Optmistic ~

Aug. 8, 2010, 12:05 PM
That was a scary storm yesterday for sure and more are expected today. Who installed your rods on the barn and house?

Aug. 8, 2010, 09:59 PM
MM I am so glad you and yours are safe.
I have been 'tingled' three times, I am now a coward. Lightning is dangerous. TG for the rods.

Aug. 8, 2010, 10:08 PM
I don't recall the name of the company who installed the rods, my husband has it on file somewhere. It was two guys that pulled into our driveway one morning, gave us some story about being in the area with all the equipment, they were supposed to do another job, and the job got cancelled or something like that, and they would give us a discount to install them on our place. Probably a total BS story, but whatever, we got them installed. And I am really glad we did.

The mare is fine today, acts like nothing happened. I'm still a bit gun shy when I see the clouds and hear thunder and see lightning now, and I am more hesitant about going down to the barn in those conditions. Which I guess is a good thing. I hate that my life is ruled by the weather.

Truck will go to the shop tomorrow, to see if something got fried that is causing the battery to drain. This happened the year of the hurricanes, a reastat or something malfunctioned and caused the fan in the defroster to run non-stop which drained the battery.

Aug. 9, 2010, 10:40 AM
I think we had lightning strike once while my husband and I were in the barn cleaning stalls. It was storming ,we heard a hit and then you could see electricity running along the electrical conduit in the barn. No damage was done. We have a cupola with a weathervane on top of the barn. We have had lightning strike several of our trees in the pasture.

Aug. 9, 2010, 12:42 PM
Scary, and glad you and the horses are okay! What do the lightning rods look like? I don't think we have them. I agree that the storms around here have been even scarier lately IMO. This weekend was nutty.

Aug. 9, 2010, 02:03 PM
Oh, wow! Just wow! I'm so very glad that you and all of yours are safe.

My house has been hit by lightning before, and blue balls of flame rolled around the baseboards. I know how terrified you and the horses must have been. Also Been hit by tornadoes at least three times.

You do get PTS from things like this. I still cringe when it's tornado weather and the wind starts up. All I want to do is crawl in bed and pull the covers over my head.

Aug. 9, 2010, 03:06 PM
So glad you & all your horses came away (relatively) unharmed.

Lightning is a scary thing.
I had a friend talking on her phone (many years ago - before cordless phones) struck through the phone line and thrown across her kitchen by the force.
I'm still weirded out by being on any phone in a storm - cordless or not.

Aug. 10, 2010, 04:29 PM
The company that installed our is:


It consists of metal rods about 6 inches or so with a pointy end attached to the roof, and woven metal (looks like aluminum) thick wires coming down from the rods and bolted to ground poles. I think it is important that the ground poles conduct well in the dirt, like any electical grounding equipment.

The wires run across the roof, and then down to the ground poles, usually on the corners of the building so they are not as noticable.

We have three on the barn, and I think 8-10 on the house (it is a really long house with interesting roof peak angles).

Did I mention the dead truck battery? Well, it was dead as a doornail Monday morning, so AAA jumped it, I drove it 3 miles to the shop and got a new battery. They could not find any other electrical problems. I checked with one of my gear-head friends, and he said it is possible that if the battery got a power surge from a strike direct hit or flash over), that it would not hold a charge after that because it was overcharged - sort of like your rechargeable batteries for cordless things, like cameras, drills, etc. He said the other thing that can cause a car/truck battery to die like that is if the lead things inside jar loose and rest against each other, it will no longer hold a charge.

TV's were fixed today, we lost two converter boxes, and the repair guy only had one in the truck, so he will be back in a day or two.

And oh looky, another afternoon t-storm rolling in as I type.

The also installed a weathervane rod on the cupola in the center of the barn.

Aug. 10, 2010, 04:45 PM
Oh, wow! Just wow! I'm so very glad that you and all of yours are safe.

My house has been hit by lightning before, and blue balls of flame rolled around the baseboards. I know how terrified you and the horses must have been. Also Been hit by tornadoes at least three times.

You do get PTS from things like this. I still cringe when it's tornado weather and the wind starts up. All I want to do is crawl in bed and pull the covers over my head.

Oh, I hear you Viney, we had a big storm earlier this year, possibly a mini tornado, it blew my daughters trampoline clear over the fence all the way to the far side of the pasture. I'm sure that scared the bejeezus out of the horses because they were soaking wet from being out in the rain, they probably fled the barn in a mad panick as the thing when sailing/tumbling past the barn. That was another incident where our guardian angels were at work, it didn't hit the fence, well, barn or trailer, it did take out a 10 foot weed type tree that I didn't like anyway. The trampoline was toast, nothing but a mangled mess of metal. And who knew it had so many springs that I had to pick up all over the pasture?

We are lucky to have a few "tornado" rooms in the house, interrior rooms with no windows, one bathroom and three walk in closets. We didn't plan it that way, but I am glad we have them.

cheval convert
Aug. 10, 2010, 04:53 PM
MM, just want to add my voice to all those who are glad you, the horses and your property are all ok. (I think I'll stay in good old New England.):)

Aug. 10, 2010, 08:35 PM
So glad you and yours are safe MM! How terrifying it must have been for your and your horses.

About a month ago we had a storm roll in at night when the horses were turned out to escape the daytime heat.. BO and husband went to bring in BO's QH gelding and my 2 y.o. TB filly and both managed to get loose when a loud crack spooked them.

I got a call at 2:00 a.m. and high tailed it to the farm and spent the next hour in driving rain with lightening all around calling and calling for the horses. They had gone about a mile from the barn in a hedgerow with lots of mature trees. I've always loved storms, but not wanted to be fried by them. But, I'll tell ya', given the circumstances I didn't notice the weather! When I caught sight of their silhouettes in a flash of lightening, galloping to the barn, I heaved a sigh of relief. TG, they were okay. Hot, but okay.

Like many areas in the country, we have pop-up storms for about 6 months of the year and they often include electrical turmoil. I prefer for the horses to be exposed to t-storms during the day instead of night. Is that nuts?

Aug. 10, 2010, 08:43 PM
Wow Foundationmare, that is my other nightmare, loose horses, and to have to find them in the middle of a thunderstorm would have really shaved a few years off my lifespan for sure.

I recall the storms in upstate NY, and we had some doozies in CT too, it's just that here in FL, it is a daily event for 4 months out of the year.

Oridinarily I don't force the horses to stay in the barn, I let them chose to be in or out. And then I say a little prayer for their safety during every storm. Most of the time they opt to stay in the barn.

Aug. 11, 2010, 10:03 AM
Glad you are alright down there, MM. I imagine the horses will be opting to stay out in the storms in the near future.

I once farm sat for a guy (an electrician) who had used electrical conduit for fencing all around the property. It was a beautiful piece of land, with lots of paddocks and the conduit provided strong and safe fencing all the way through and through. I had never seen it used this way before, and initially thought it was a thrifty idea. It wasn't until I was trapped in the barn in a bad electrical storm that I realized why one would not choose to use electrical conduit for fencing. Holy moly! Strikes hitting the fencing galore, the place was lit up in blinding bright white again and again, with booming straight out of the 4th of July. The horses were all in, so I got into the middle of the barn (as the ends are usually the first to get struck), crouched down on a rubber mat and covered my ears (as was then the advice from the National Weather Service), and prayed it would be over soon. Then, in the middle of it all, one of the mares freaked out, busted out of her stall and charged right into the middle of her paddock and stayed there while it all came raining down. She survived, but I lost 10 years off of my life after that fiasco.

Aug. 11, 2010, 08:47 PM
Oh my, that sounds just awful chief. yikes.

For those interested in lightening rods, there is a guy who travels all over who does lightening rods, his website is the lightening rod man. com

I was going to have him do my barn if I built in aiken...cost was about 1500 for a 36x72 barn, which given the overall price of the barn, I thought was the least expensive part of it, but would provide me with some reassurance during horrific lightening storms.
In areas where lightening is a frequent occurance, I personally would not feel comfortable without them.

Aug. 11, 2010, 09:40 PM
MM, I was close to hysteria, as my filly in the storm is my heart horse. BO's husband, a really good egg, was deep in the woods with a spotlight and he was doing his best to keep the horses in sight. He kept flushing them towards the barn and, between his spotlight and flashes of lightening, was able to keep them in sight. BO was in regular contact with him but it was a LONG time before we got a glimpse of them. Another crack of lightening and we spotted them galloping towards the barn.

Once they were wrangled, BO was beside herself and so apologetic, but, hey, sh#$ happens! I was so grateful to have my girl safely in her stall!

Aug. 12, 2010, 01:09 AM
Amazingly enough, they go in the barn during the daily storms, I guess they were far less traumatized than I was. And you know that the Peppy-monster is convinced that he will melt in the rain. He is still the first one in the barn as soon as the first few drops fall.

Chief, what a horror story! I do recall some spectacular storms at the farm in CT also, and I was always amazed that the barn itself didn't get hit, you would think a big metal building like that at the top of the hill would be a prime target.

Did I also mention the dead freezer full of food? No idea if that was a casualty of the storm or not, but I had to take a trip to the dump this morning to toss out about 400 pounds of food (yes, my mother in law had filled it to the max on Sunday). Waiting for the repair man to assess the damage on that. My husband is ready to tear his hair out.

Yes, we are still counting our blessings, but some days the long series of annoyances drag you down worse than a single major calamity.

Aug. 12, 2010, 06:11 PM
Shhhhhh, MM. The gods might hear you.....:eek: