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Fireworks and Horses: Keeping Your Horse Safe This Season


horses and fireworks

Bonfire night is an exciting time for many, with dazzling displays of lights and sounds. But while humans generally enjoy the spectacle, it’s well known that pets and livestock, including horses, can find firework night incredibly distressing.

Horses and fireworks don’t mix particularly well. Horses have a heightened sensitivity to loud noises and sudden bursts of light, meaning they can become very stressed if they can hear or see a firework display. While some become too agitated to eat or drink, others can go into a blind panic, trying to break out of their field or stable, risking injuring themselves or others.

As horse owners, it is our duty to keep our horses as relaxed as possible during potentially stressful times. In this blog post, we’ll look at how to keep your horse safe and calm during firework night.


Make a Note of Local Events

The first step is to be prepared. If you keep your horses in a built-up area, you’re likely to have a number of firework events to contend with. There’s also a chance that people will set off their own fireworks, although there have been a number of campaigns put forward recently with the aim of discouraging the general public from purchasing fireworks for private use. 

Make a note of the events that are taking place near your yard or property. Remember that it’s not just Guy Fawkes night that you’ll need to consider. Often, celebrations take place the weekend following or preceding Bonfire night itself. Diwali and the New Year are also times when fireworks are more likely to be set off, both at organised displays and in private gardens.


Check the Area for Hazards 

Next, you should ensure your horse’s field or stable is secure. Whether your horse is going to be kept in or out, ensure that there is nothing in their space that could cause injury, such as protruding nails, loose fencing or foreign objects. 

If possible, it’s recommended that you take down any temporary electric fencing that your horse may run into. 

Check the perimeter of your field to ensure the fencing is in good condition and that your horse won’t be able to escape if he does panic. 


Stick to a Routine

We see many owners trying to manage horses and fireworks by bringing their horses in when they wouldn’t usually be in, or turning their horses out instead. 

We do advise sticking to your horse’s normal routine, especially if they are the type to become unsettled by change. Keep your horse with any usual companions, and keep them stabled if they are usually stabled. 

If you are planning on changing your horse’s routine (for instance, many yard managers request that horses be stabled during the firework celebrations), you should make changes gradually over the days or even weeks preceding firework night. This will help to minimise stress and ensure your horse is accustomed to his new routine before the celebrations start. 


Consider Calmers

There are many calming supplements on the market that are designed to help relax your horse during stressful times. The research on calming supplements is fairly limited, but if you know that a certain supplement works for your horse, it could be worth a try. 

Owners who are particularly concerned about their horses should contact their vet. While we have a 24-hour emergency line, we recommend contacting your vet for advice before your horse becomes too distressed. If you are especially worried, for example, if your horse has already had a bad experience with fireworks, your vet may advise that some sedation is necessary. 


Provide Distractions

Finally, we recommend providing distractions for your horse. Ensure your horse is not left without forage as this can make them anxious. Some owners play music outside their horse’s stable to mask loud bangs, although this should be introduced well before firework night itself. 

Stable toys can also help distract your horse during the night. Treat balls and other stable toys can help keep horses distracted and engaged in another task, but if your horse gets incredibly distressed they are unlikely to help and instead may pose a hazard. 


Avonvale Equine Vets

While these steps can help keep your horse safe and calm during firework season, our 24-hour emergency line is here if you require any emergency help. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you are worried or your horse is becoming dangerously distressed. 

Register your horse with us today or call us on 01295 670 501. 


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