Bonfire night is one of my favourite celebrations and I love fireworks, toffee apples and sparklers. As an animal owner and vet however, this time of year can be very stressful. My animals do not enjoy the bangs and flashes and we see more injuries to horses around this time, particularly where displays are held close to the horses’ stables or paddocks.
So what can we do to minimise the risk of injury to our precious equines?
If horses are normally stabled, I generally advise bringing them into the stable before the celebrations kick off, having checked all stables for loose nails or sharp edges and removed anything that does not need to be stored in the stable, which could cause injury. Leaving lights on in the yard and stable and a radio playing, can reduce the impact of fireworks but it is best to do this for a few nights before displays start so the horses become used to it and aren’t unsettled by changes to their management. Some horses show exaggerated stress response when their owners are present, so if you feel you need to stay with your horses, try to keep a low profile and stay out of their sight-line.
Where horses live at grass, again check paddock fencing is intact and secure and where possible repair or remove loose or protruding fencing. If grazing is limited supplemental forage feeding may help to reduce anxiety when fireworks are going off.
For nervous horses or where displays are close by, there are a range of supplements available to help your horses stay calm. These are available from our shop and if you are unsure which product to use, please contact us.
It is worth noting that whilst horses are usually safe to ride after calming supplements have been administered, they may be less responsive than usual and care should be taken.
Help with distress
For animals that are very distressed by fireworks and likely to sustain injury, prescription sedatives or anxiolytics may be appropriate. These may only be prescribed to animals under our care and after consulting a veterinary surgeon. If you feel these may be appropriate please contact us, in advance of requirement, so we can discuss your horse’s needs further.
After the fireworks have finished, check all your horses are well, injury-free and happily eating before leaving them for the night.
I wish you all a Happy Halloween and stress-free bonfire night!