Bonfire Night (5th November) can be stressful as horses can easily be spooked by our human festivities. Fireworks in particular can be difficult on our equine pals and with fireworks starting earlier each year, you may have to worry about their emotional well being for longer. Even the calmest of stallions can be spooked by the loud, unanticipated and confusing noises and colours.
However, there are plenty of steps you can take to help your horse feel safe and out of harm’s way.
Before Bonfire Night, make sure you…
- Check out local displays and know what time big fireworks shows are happening in your area
- Make a decision on where to keep your horse, ahead of time. Horses will already be stressed so they’ll feel more at home in their usual environment, perhaps with a companion they’re familiar with. If your horse is usually out of their stable, they can remain there as long as no firework displays are close by.
- Let your neighbours know where your horses will be so that they can make sure fireworks are set off in another direction and far away from them.
- Double-check for any risk factors such as sharp objects or loose nails in their stable. If your horse is in a field, be sure that the fencing is not broken. Horses can be alarmed and you don’t want any avoidable injuries.
- Consider temporary sedation if you know a particular horse struggles with this time of year. It’s a safe and valid option if their anxiety flares up and is a lot to handle. Speak to your vet.
- Get third party liability insurance. A spooked horse can cause considerable damage, especially if they bolt and escape. That way, you’re protected against any damage they may cause.
During Bonfire Night, make sure you…
- Can be there on the night or have someone you can trust close by during local fireworks displays.
- Be prepared for spooked horses and have a plan in place to manage and distress – a startled horse is a potential threat to everyone!
- Play music on a radio just outside the stables. The music may distract from the sudden noises and gives them the impression people are near.
- Distract them! Our decahedron toy is a great way to give your horse a stimulus and keep their minds away from what’s going on around them.
- Keep calm! Our clever friends can sense when we’re not ourselves, so being too alert, scatty or frenetic could give them the impression that they need to panic too.
If you’re unsure of how to approach Bonfire Night, speak to your local vet. It’s also worthwhile seeing what the British Horse Society has to say about big events.