Coping with fireworks
For any horse owner, Fireworks Night is a worry. However, celebrations now tend to go on for two or even three weeks and are certainly not restricted to the one night. Here at Remus, our residents are kept as calm as possible during any nearby displays. They’re no doubt helped by the holistic care and therapies we provide all year round, but of course nothing can really prepare any animal for the noise or flashing lights.
Thankfully, following more than 307,000 people signing one petition, change is happening and a report by the Petitions Committee was released on 5th November. This report comes after an inquiry into the impact of fireworks on humans and animals, and calls on the government to limit the number of displays through a system of permits, review noise levels and promote the responsible use of fireworks.
Meanwhile, an owner’s video of a firework display over her stable yard went viral online last week with what she described as sounding like a “war zone”, and there have been other stories in the press of shocking injuries to distressed horses and ponies.
Hopefully for our horses, ponies and all other animals who are affected, change will come. In the meantime, try to keep your horses’ routines as familiar as you can to reduce stress and make sure their stable and field environments are safe. If you know fireworks are going to be set off, you should stay with your horse, but always be aware of your own safety.
You can read more about the Petitions Committee report at: https://www.yourhorse.co.uk/news/articles/bang-out-of-order-rspca-welcomes-new-fireworks-report
Keeping Your Horse Safe During Fireworks Season
Remember, remember the 5th of November: How could we forget! For some of us firework season is just a nightmare if you have a horse or pet afraid of fireworks. Yes, unfortunately Bonfire Night is fast approaching which means we can probably expect to experience at least a two-week period of firework displays. It can be a distressing time for horses and a very stressful time for owners if you don’t know how best to keep your animals safe – and preparation is key.
Its really important that you keep your horse to its normal routine. By ensuring the same routine, you will be minimising the stress for them. Some horses will react better if they are kept in the fields. However, If your horse is used to being stabled overnight, it would be best to keep it this way. It’s really down to the horse’s preferences and you’ll know him and how best to cope with this. If your horse will be out, it would be a good idea to ensure there aren’t any objects in the field (or stables come to that) which could injure your horse if it becomes frightened. We’re sure you do this already, but do also check to make sure that all fencing is secure.
You’ll know that we’re a fan of playing music in the stables to help keep our animals calm; playing music within the barn or stable area may also help to dull the sound of the bangs dependent on the distance. However, if you do decide to try this approach, make sure you introduce the music before the event so that its not something else your horse needs to worry about! If you don’t normally, then leave the stable or barn lights on as this may also help lessen the effect of the flashes and bright lights.
If you’re unsure of how your horse will react to the noise, stay with them, as your familiar presence should calm them and, of course, be sure not to ride your horse under any circumstances when you think fireworks may be set off. Try and make yourself available anyway – if you see and understand how they react this time, it will help you in future. If your horse does get distressed, stay with them until after the display has finished, to ensure they stay as calm as possible and don’t injure themselves.
If you know that whatever you do, your horse will react badly, possibly injuring itself, you could discuss the possibility of sedating your horse with your vet, or consider moving your horse while fireworks are likely to be exploding.
If you are unfortunate enough to have a problem caused by fireworks, please let us know and also report it to The British Horse Society on its dedicated fireworks accident online form here.
It’s recommended that you do your research in advance, to find out what events will be taking place locally and at what time fireworks will be set off.
And finally, the British Horse Society produce a useful document with advice on fireworks and horses which you can download here.