Guy Fawkes night is this weekend, which can be a very stressful time for your horse. We spoke to the British Horse Society (BHS) for advice on how to keep your horse safe during fireworks season.
How can we find out about firework displays in our area?
Check local newspapers and shop notice boards and listen to the local radio station. You can also ask in local tackshops/feed merchants, who may know of displays near you.
If possible, talk to neighbours and firework display organisers to let them know horses are nearby, and ask them to set the fireworks off in the opposite direction.
Should we leave our horse in the field, or keep him in his stable?
As long as your horse’s field isn’t close to the firework display area, it is best to keep him in his familiar environment and normal routine, with his companions.
Check the fencing is secure and not broken and that there are no foreign objects lying around, in case they gallop about when the fireworks go off.
If your horse is stabled, check thoroughly for anything that could cause potential injury, such as protruding nails and string. Ensure the haynet is well secured and high off the ground, so that your horse can’t get caught up if he is startled.
If we have a particularly sensitive horse, are there any other precautions we should take?
If you know your horse will be stressed, talk to your vet about sedation. You could also consider moving him for the night.
You can try to desensitise him to loud bangs and there are various CDs available that can be played to your horse at low level, slowly increasing the volume as they become comfortable with the noise.
When handling your horse try to remain calm and keep positive, as he will sense unease and this may make things worse if he is startled.
We’ve heard that playing music can help?
Playing music on a radio outside the stable can often mask sudden noise, distract attention and be soothing. It is a good idea to get your horse used to the radio before the firework display.
What if we can’t be at the yard when the fireworks go off?
If you know that fireworks are due to be set off on a particular night, try to ensure that you or someone experienced stays with your horse.
Discuss a strategy for dealing with fireworks with the yard owner and fellow liveries – that way, everyone has support.
If you can’t be there make sure you leave clear instructions and contact details for both you and your vet, should any problems arise.
For more information download the BHS fireworks leaflet, which offers advice and guidance to horse owners. They have also produced a poster, aimed at firework display organisers, which you can download here.