advice on fireworks

Most horse owners will dread that time in early November (or New Year’s Eve) when fireworks seem to go on forever. This is especially as horses and fireworks can be a difficult combination to manage. This year there may be fewer organised displays due to Covid-19 restrictions. However, this may mean that more private households will let off fireworks from their garden.

How to help your horse cope with fireworks

As bonfire night approaches make sure you take precautions to minimise the impact they have on your horse or pony.

  • Find out if there are any displays/fireworks planned near to where your horse is kept. Local press and shop notice boards as well as local radio and Facebook groups are a good source of information.
  • Contact organisers to explain your concerns. See if there are any measures they can take – for example, moving to the far end of a site and ask about timings so you can manage your horse appropriately.
  • It may be worth asking people living locally if they intend to have any private fireworks so that you can express your concerns and also be prepared.
  • Stick to your horse’s normal routine wherever possible as sudden changes may make him more unsettled. If he is usually stabled, keep him stabled. If he is normally out in the field, keep him out there as long as it is safe, secure and not close to a firework display area.
  • Wherever your horse is spending the night make sure it is safe and secure. If he’s staying in check his stable for protruding nails or loose string he could get caught up on. If he’s out in the field make sure your fencing is secure with no broken rails, no barbed wire and cleared of objects that could possible injure him, such as farm machinery.
  • Playing music outside his stable can mask bangs. However, make sure you introduce this before firework night to ensure the music itself does not worry him.
  • Similarly leaving your stable lights on can help reduce the effect of sudden bright flashes in the night sky.
  • Make sure you are with him during the scheduled times for any local displays. If you can’t be there ensure you have someone experienced checking on him throughout the duration of any displays.
  • Leave clear instructions for them as well as contact information for you and your vet should anything happen. If you know your horse gets very stressed around fireworks consider moving him for the night or talking to your vet about sedation.
  • Remain calm and be very aware of your own safety when your horse is stressed. An injured owner is no good to anyone, including your horse!

Whatever you do, do not ride when you know there are displays planned near-by.