Last Updated on April 24, 2022
As any equine owner or carer will tell you, horses and fireworks are a bad combination! The firework season can be very distressing, with some serious problems and injuries caused by people setting off fireworks near horses. Let’s find out what you can do to help your horse stay calm through all those bangs and flashes!
Why Are Horses And Fireworks A Problem?
Horses are prey animals, which makes them constantly wary of potential threats and predators. Even when asleep, they will be alert to noises and can panic at the slightest thing. Anyone who has been riding a horse that spooked after standing on a stick will tell you this!
This means that fireworks can be absolutely terrifying for some horses, and they will become highly stressed and panic. If they are in a stable, they may be extra fearful as they will feel trapped and unable to run away. However, outside is not much better, as the horse might run into fencing or other objects in the dark!
It is not uncommon for horses to become injured during firework season, as they can catch themselves on fences, gates, feeders, and other objects during their panic. They can also succumb to colic as a result of the increased stress.
Another problem caused by horses and fireworks is the risk of injury from burnt-out rockets falling into the horse’s field.
So, if you’re worried about how to keep your horse calm and safe this firework season, let’s take a look at what you can do to help.
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How To Help Your Horse Cope With Fireworks
Often, keeping our horses away from fireworks is not a possibility, and we need to find a way to deal with this situation. Hopefully, you are lucky enough to get some warning from anyone organizing a firework display, giving you chance to prepare some coping strategies. Once a horse is already panicking, it can be very difficult to calm them down again.
Firstly, try to avoid any sudden changes in routine. You might be tempted to bring your horse in early to avoid fireworks, but if this is a big change from normal then he may start to become unsettled. It might be a good idea to start bringing him in earlier every day a week or so before the fireworks are due to start.
One of the best ways to keep a horse calm during fireworks is to provide plenty of distractions. Again, start this a few days in advance, so that your horse is familiar with it.
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Distraction Techniques – Horses And Fireworks
Good distraction techniques for horses include:
- Play music on a radio outside the stable
- Hang up toys and treats for the horse to play with
- Hide small treats in the bedding or hay manger
- Make sure the horse has other horses nearby
- Ensure that his hay ration will last all night, by using a slow feeder or small holed hay net
- Using desensitization programs to get your horse used to the sound of fireworks
On the night of the fireworks, pop in to check on your horse to make sure he is calm. If he is panicking, don’t be tempted to enter the stable, as he may injure you by accident. Talk calmly to him over the door, and offer food and treats as a distraction.
You might find it a good idea to team up with other horse owners at your yard, sharing the job of checking on the horses. Alternatively, turn it into a fun event and have a camp-out at the barn with your friends – the horses will love the company!
The day after the fireworks, remember to check around the grazing land for fallen burnt-out rockets before turning your horse out. Give your horse a thorough inspection for cuts and injuries that he may have sustained overnight.
If these techniques are not working for your horse, you may need to seek the advice of a veterinary professional or qualified horse behaviorist. They can work with you on training strategies for your horse, such as further noise desensitization and clicker training, to help him stay calm throughout the night.
Some people may suggest sedating your horse to help him stay calm during fireworks, but this should only be done under the advice of your veterinarian.
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Horses And Fireworks Summary
So, as we have learned, horses and fireworks are two things that do not mix well! Horses are easily spooked by loud bangs and flashes, and the sound of fireworks can cause them to panic and become distressed. There are several things you can do to help your horse cope with fireworks, such as a desensitization strategy or noise control.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about horses and fireworks! Do you dread it when you hear there is going to be a firework display near your horse’s field or barn? Or perhaps your horse is not at all bothered by fireworks? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
Are Horses Better In Or Out With Fireworks?
Whether horses are better in or out with fireworks depends on each individual situation. Being inside may muffle the noise of fireworks, but the horse may feel trapped and panicked. If outside, the horse is free to run and hide, but may become distressed and injury himself.
It is advisable to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each situation, and seek expert advice if you are worried that your horse may hurt himself during firework season.
How Far Away Can A Horse Hear?
Horses have an incredibly sensitive sense of hearing, and can detect noises from up to 4km away. They can also hear noises at different frequencies to humans.
How Do You Desensitize A Horse To Sound?
Desensitizing a horse to sound is a great way to help them cope with the noise of fireworks. During this process, the horse will become accustomed to the noise of fireworks in a safe and controlled environment, so he no longer panics when he hears them in real life.
Is It Illegal To Have Fireworks Near Horses?
The rules around fireworks vary from country to country and state to state. However, it is never a good idea to let off fireworks near to horses.
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then wenton to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE