Fireworks: 7 top tips for keeping calm
As the nights begin to draw in, we get ever closer to every horse owners worst nightmare; firework season. This time of year, can bring stress and anxiety to horses and owners alike. As horses are prey animals, they have evolved to react quickly to threats which can result in injury to both horse and rider alike. Read our top tips on how to help your horse during firework season.
Understanding Equine Anxiety
Horses, by nature, are flight animals. . Horses have evolved to react rapidly to loud noises and therefore can react negatively during loud events, including sweating, trembling and escape attempts which can result in injury for both horse and rider. Fireworks are not only loud, their unpredictable, intermittent, and high-intensity flashes, different odours and change in barometric pressure, can all effect how the horse perceives the threat. Understanding their anxiety is the first step towards helping them cope.
1. Creating a Safe Enviroment
If possible, make sure your horse is as far away as possible from the firework location; consider moving to a different field for the night. If your horse is turned out, inspect the fencing to prevent the horse from getting entangled or injured. Electric fencing can be a good deterrent. If your horse is stabled, ensure the stable is secure, well-ventilated, and free from any sharp objects that could cause injury if the horse panics. Consider leaving boots on over night to help protect legs.
2. Distraction is Key!
Consider playing a radio in the stable to help mask the sound of fireworks. Classical music and nature sounds can be particularly calming for horses. Keep your horse occupied with toys and treat balls, using horse-friendly treats that they love. Our Pure Treats work well in treat balls and keep horses engaged. Ensure your horse has ample forage to munch on. This can be a comforting distraction during the fireworks.
3. Using Calming Products
Consult your veterinarian about calming supplements that can help take the edge off your horse’s anxiety. Some horses respond well to magnesium supplements, while others may benefit from herbal remedies. You can also consider pheromone sprays, which mimic natural calming signals and can help reduce stress in horses.
4. Maintaining a Consistent Routine
Horses find comfort in routine. Try to stick to their regular feeding, turnout, and exercise schedules. Familiarity and predictability can be reassuring during times of stress. This will help them feel more at ease and secure. Leave a light on in their stable to reduce the impact of flashing lights from fireworks.
5. Staying Calm and Reassuring
Horses can sense their handlers’ emotions. Stay calm and composed around your horse, providing reassurance through your presence and gentle strokes. Avoid sudden movements or loud voices that could startle them further. Remember that frightened horses can be unpredictable. If your horse becomes stressed or startled, prioritize your safety and avoid putting yourself at risk.
6. Consulting a Professional
If you notice any concerning behaviour or signs of severe distress in your horse, don’t hesitate to consult your veterinarian for guidance and support.
If your horse’s anxiety is severe, consider consulting an equine behaviourist or trainer. They can provide specialised advice and training techniques to help your horse cope with the noise.
7. Planning Ahead
Stay Informed: Begin by checking the dates of local fireworks displays in your area. Engage in open communication with neighbors and the local council to understand when the fireworks are scheduled and how you can collectively manage your horses’ stress levels.
Further assistance from our nutritional team
We hope you find these tips helpful in ensuring the safety and comfort of your horse during the fireworks season. If you have questions, our nutritionists are here to assist you. Contact them at 01458 333 333 or via email at [email protected].
The Firework Campaign UK
One effort to help protect our horses, other animals and vulnerable people from fireworks, is the The Firework Campaign UK. Julie Doorne from FAB shared more about the initiative with us.
“The unexpected noise & visuals of fireworks can cause distress and anxiety to vulnerable people and animals. We are asking the government to take seriously the problem that many people have with fireworks and limit their sale to licensed displays only.” Julie Doorne, Firework Campaign.
You can find out more about the campaign on the TFC website and how to effectively report any incidents relating to fireworks and horses via the BHS website: https://fireworkcampaign.com