I am constantly thinking through and rethinking survival scenarios. Of all of these, the loss of our electric grid, either due to a solar event or an EMP attack, is probably the most challenging, as well as being the most likely end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it event we might see. As such, it is one that deserves close study.
Survival during those years would require complete self-sufficiency, as the entire infrastructure we depend on would be non-functional without electricity. Anyone who has spent any time thinking about it can see that just about everything in our lives would have to change.
One thing that would change almost instantly would be transportation. We are a mobile society, highly dependent on our cars and trucks. Even if those passed through the EMP unscathed, there would be no way to get fuel for them. Whatever government survived would immediately impound all gasoline and diesel supplies, hoarding them for their own use. When those ran out, there would be no resupply.
This means that your and my transportation will be limited to our feet and perhaps a bicycle. I’ve got a great bug-out vehicle, but it would be useless to me in such a time. Not only would it be all but impossible to bug out, but I wouldn’t be any better off anywhere else, than I am here at home.
Enter the Horse
But people had to get around before the invention of the automobile, too. Without the use of the internal combustion engine, they were stuck with what we would call more primitive means of transportation. In this country, most of that movement was accomplished through horse power.
The horse is the ultimate off-grid survival vehicle. As long as plants keep growing, there will always be a sufficiency of fuel for them. You won’t even have to go to a gas station to find fuel, as it grows pretty much anywhere. The horse’s natural “filter” selects only the fuel that it can burn properly, avoiding all other “counterfeit” fuels.
Horses may not be fast, as compared to our cars and trucks, but they are reliable. Not only that, but they couldn’t care less about an EMP, the loss of the grid or any of the other things that would be causing us problems. People who own horses will be the wealthy in that time, for they will have a means to get where they want, when they want, how they want.
Horses are also excellent off-road vehicles, as their hooves really aren’t made for walking on pavement anyway. They don’t care about traffic laws, don’t need traffic signals at intersections and will make their own way, if there isn’t one readily at hand.
While most people today think of horses as something to be ridden (or just to be looked at), horses can also be harnessed to carts and wagons, making them the old-fashioned version of the pickup truck or the family sedan. Since neither of these will be readily available in a post-EMP world, horses will become the best means of transportation available. Draft horses can also be readily trained for saddle, making them multi-purpose vehicles.
Industrializing the Horse
But the horse will be able to be more than a means of transportation. Before internal combustion engines took over, horses and oxen were the main motive power behind many kinds of industry. Machine shops, which are powered by electric motors today, were powered by horses or oxen before those electric motors became available. Likewise, in places where it was impractical to build waterwheels, animal power was used for gristmills (grinding grain) and sawmills.
There will be an even greater industrial need for the horse in that day, and that’s for farming. Without tractors to plow and reap, farming will be reduced to what can be done with human power and animal power. Forget the massive corporate farms of today; we will have to go back to the old-fashioned family farm, if we are to survive as a society.
According to the report of the EMP Commission, the vast majority of the people who will die in a post-EMP world will die of starvation. So, farming will be a key to not only personal survival, but the survival of society. The problem is, there aren’t enough horses around right now to make that possible.
Adding Horses to Your Preps
While owning horses could increase your family’s ability to survive, making that move is not without problems of its own. Horses are expensive to start with, and the costs only start with the purchase. Caring for and feeding a horse is much more expensive than caring for other family pets.
Then there’s the problem of where to keep the horse. You can’t exactly park it in your garage, and most municipalities have ordinances against keeping horses in your backyard. So, unless you happen to live out in the country, it would be virtually impossible to keep a horse at your home. That means boarding it at a stable somewhere, which in turn means visiting the horse daily to feed and care for it.
Of course, if a major disaster does strike, you can probably get away with picking your horse up from the stable and taking it home. While the neighbors might complain a bit about the smell, they’ll be happy when that horse is able to plow their back yard up to turn it into a garden.
This brings up another important point. The horse alone isn’t enough. If you’re going to have a horse or horses, you’ll need the implements to use that horse, as well, or all they will be is an additional burden. That means saddles, wagons, plows or whatever else you can think of, which will help you accomplish what you need to with your horse.
Saddle horses must be ridden regularly to keep them accustomed to accepting the weight of the saddle and rider. Likewise, it is necessary to work draft horses, too. Just like you and I, horses need exercise to stay in shape. Standing around in a barn or corral doesn’t provide that. You have to get them out and spend time with them, making them work. So, horses are not just a financial investment; they also are a time investment.
Nevertheless, if you can manage to add a horse to your preps, you’ll be the envy of the whole town, when and if the grid ever goes down. In the meantime, you can enjoy your relationship with your four-legged friend, riding it or taking the family for a ride in the wagon.
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