Warning horse owners and those who are planning fireworks celebrations in areas near to where horses live please take extra care during November when fireworks and bonfires associated with Guy Fawkes and Diwali celebrations could frighten and cause injury to horses. It is estimated that around 60% of all animals become distressed by the loud noise and flashing lights of fireworks, however horses living outside may be more vulnerable. Petplan Equine in association with Petplan Equine veterinary expert Gil Riley, has compiled a handy list of dos and don’ts for horse owners and event organisers alike to help ensure this year’s celebrations go off with a bang without anyone taking fright!
Horse Owners’ Top Tips
“We must remember that, being flight animals, even the most sensible horses can be prone to bolting when frightened which can lead to injury to the horse or others. The most important advice I can give horse owners is to be aware and prepared by making sure your horse is as safe and secure as possible”, explains Gil Riley.
- Find out in advance when and where fireworks displays are taking place – check local listings, social media and tune into your local radio station
- If you know of an event close by contact organisers and ask them to stick to an agreed time and if possible, aim fireworks in the opposite direction
- If a display is due to take place in a field adjacent to where your horse grazes, consider moving him for the evening
- However, unless there’s a need to move your horse, maintaining a normal routine will help to keep his confidence
- If your horse normally lives out, then avoid additional stress by stabling him. If leaving your horse out, make sure all fencing and gates are secure, that electricity is working and there are no protruding nails etc. on which the horse could harm himself.
- If you decide to stable your horse make sure he has a thick bed with high banks and that there is nothing obvious on which he could injure himself.
- Give your horse plenty of hay to keep him occupied
- Leaving a radio on can muffle fireworks and help to keep him calm.
- Ear covers or cotton wool can help to reduce the noise
- Stay with your horse or ask someone to stay with him – not all horses worry about fireworks but those that do need reassuring. Make sure you check on your horse even if he is normally calm.
- If your horse is particularly nervous or you know that he is easily ‘spooked’ by fireworks it could be a good idea to ask your vet to prescribe a mild sedative.
- Ensure a supply of sand, water and serviceable fire extinguishers by stables
- If you are not on site, leave your details visible on a plaque on the gate so you can be contacted if there’s a problem
- After a fireworks event has taken place check your fields for spent fireworks as these could cause injury at a later date
- Check you have adequate third party liability insurance in place as the law states that you will be liable should your horse escape and cause injury or damage to a third party or their property
Event Organisers’ Top Tips
- Firstly, it’s a good idea to leaflet and email all residents and livery yards within a radius of two or three miles with details of your fireworks display
- Announce your fireworks event using social media by uploading details to your Facebook page and tweet about it in advance
- Be as specific as possible about when the display will take place and try to stick to this so that horse owners can be prepared at this time.
- Consider using lower-noise fireworks, i.e. those registered under category two of the British standard – e.g. garden fireworks
- If you have horses that live close by try if possible to set the fireworks off in the opposite direction
REMEMBER As horses are flight animals every care must be taken to ensure their safety and that of others when the atmosphere lights up with fireworks. While no one wants to spoil the party, a little forethought and communication can go a long way to making sure events go off with a bang without frightening the horses.”
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