Horses and ponies are easily spooked by fireworks, but with the correct preparation and planning, you can keep them safe and calm throughout fireworks season.
It can be hard to relax around Bonfire Night when you know there is a possibility your horse may be upset by the fireworks. There are, however, some things you can do to try and help your horse get through this period with limited distress:
- Try to make sure fireworks aren’t set off near your horse’s field or stable. Keep a check on plans for local displays, and tell neighbours and local firework display organisers that there are horses nearby so they can make sure fireworks are set off well away from them. Anyone planning a display in a rural area should let neighbouring farmers know in advance.
- Your horse will cope best in a familiar environment, keeping to his or her normal routine and with any usual companions during firework season.
- If your horse is usually stabled, then keep them stabled. Do a full check of the stable for anything that could cause an injury, such as nails sticking out, before you leave them.
- If they are normally outside in the field, keep them there as long as the field is safe, secure, and away from firework display areas.
- If you know fireworks will be set off near your horse, make sure you or someone experienced stays with them. This way you can observe your horse’s behaviour and make sure they stay safe and as calm as possible. It also means that you can react quickly if your horse becomes upset. If you need to leave your horse in another person’s care during a firework show, leave clear instructions and contact details for yourself and your vet in case of any problems.
- Try to keep yourself calm and positive throughout any displays, as horses can sense unease in people and if you are worried your horse’s fear may worsen.
- Be careful yourself. Try not to get in the way if your horse becomes startled as you might get hurt and never run the risk of riding when you think fireworks might be set off.
- Whether stabled or in the field, you should feed only low-starch products to help promote relaxed behaviour. Using a supplement to help relaxation provides additional focussed nutritional support.
There is a lot of useful information contained on the BHS website here. If there is a display near your stable, yard or field, check the area for bits of used firework and put anything that could be dangerous to your horse in the bin when it has finished.