Fireworks and horses often do not go well together. Horses are flight animals, and their reaction to a sudden, loud noise is to startle and run.
Add in the fact that fireworks are shot off at night when there doesn’t tend to be anyone in the barn or near their enclosure to observe the horses, and you can have a potentially dangerous situation.
Frightened horses can injure themselves and get loose, so it’s important to take some steps to keep your horse safe when you know that there will be a firework celebration nearby.
• Keep your horses inside. Depending on your horse of course, but many will keep a calmer sense if they feel contained and safe.
• Provide distraction, like playing a radio with something soothing. Leave them a haynet (chomping is therapeutic).
• Check in with your horses. They will feel better knowing you are around and haven’t abandoned them in a dangerous situation.
The Horse & Hound lists the following tips and more:
• If stabled, check thoroughly for anything that could cause potential injury such as protruding nails and string.
• If your horse is to stay in the field, check that fencing is not broken and that there are no foreign objects lying around.
• Ensure that you, or someone experienced, stays with your horse if you know that fireworks are being set off.
Go here for Horse & Hounds’ 14 top tips to help horses cope with fireworks »
• There’s an interesting discussion forum at Chronicle of the Horse with some practical suggestions about dealing with neighbors who set off firecrackers etc near your horses »
WE SAY NO
The Horse magazine online recommends setting off a few firecrackers around your horses until they get used to it. We say NO.
Depending on a horse’s sensibilities this is not a good idea. If your horse is rough and ready perhaps you could do this and get away with it. A barnful of horses? There may have been occasions when people have done this and it worked out okay. However, be as prepared as you can, you are taking a big chance.
Horses are not cookie cutter animals. They do not all react in the same way. They are also unpredictable. You never really know how a horse is going to behave until they are exposed to something. Even then, just when you think you have it all figured out, it can still be different next time!
If you are unsure about anything, consult someone you feel confident will know, that has good experience and an excellent history with horses.
Before taking anyone’s advice, no one knows your horses like you.
Have a safe and happy 4th.