Fireworks season is fast approaching and, as a horse owner, this can be a worrying time for you and stressful for your horse or pony, as the sky is lit up with bright bursts of colour and loud bangs. Even the calmest of horses or ponies can get spooked or worried by the unusual sound of fireworks, or the sight or smell of a bonfire.
By taking these steps, you can to help keep your horse safe and minimise the stress caused by fireworks, both to you and your horse.
- Find out the dates and locations of local firework displays. Speak to the organisers of organised displays, and also to any neighbours who you know are planning their own celebrations, to ensure you know what time the fireworks will be starting and finishing. Warn them that there are horses nearby and ask if they can be considerate about the direction in which they set off the fireworks.
- Maintain your horse’s normal routine as far as possible, keeping them where they will be most calm. That may be in the stable, ideally with other horses nearby for companionship, and you may consider leaving a radio on to help dull the noise of the fireworks. If your horse normally lives out and their field is not too close to the fireworks and is secure, this may still be the best place for them.
- Check the stable or field is completely secure and that there are no sharp or protruding objects on which your horse could injure itself easily.
- Make sure your horse has plenty of hay to keep him occupied (even in the field) and consider giving your horse some extra treats, which will help to keep them distracted.
- Ensure someone is able to be at the yard during the fireworks, or is able to carry out regular checks. Try to keep calm yourself so you don’t alarm the horse and if your horse does become agitated, keep a safe distance away to prevent getting injured yourself. Make sure you have emergency contact details available, such as your vet practice's phone number.
- Make sure your insurance is up-to-date, including third party liability cover. Should the worst happen, you could be liable if your horse causes an accident or damage. If your horse sustains an injury, you may need to rely on your insurance to pay the vet bill.
- Ensure there is a fire policy in case of any rogue fireworks, including access to a fire extinguisher, water, etc., as well as an evacuation policy for horses in the yard.
- If you have serious concerns about keeping your horse calm when you know there are going to be fireworks nearby, contact your vet in advance of these events to seek their professional advice.
- After the event, check your horse to ensure they have not injured themselves (e.g. cuts, overreaches etc.) and also carry out a thorough check of the field, including water buckets and troughs, to ensure that no stray firework debris has landed in the field.
For any further advice, please contact a member of our veterinary team on 01638 663150 (Newmarket), 01462 790221 (Hertfordshire) or 01488 683522 (Lambourn).
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