Fireworks Night

Is it really that time of year again..! It’s so stressful on all animal owners as we worry about how our animals will react to the loud bangs and lights in the sky.  For most pet owners the answer is simple – shut your pets indoors, turn the TV up and keep them nearby to reassure them.  However for horse owner the problem is a little more tricky!

Many of us stable our horses this time of year and the idea of them being confined in their stable gives us piece of mind but for horses that are normally living out it sometimes upsets them more to bring them in. I often find around fireworks night stabled horses can start to display other signs of stress, particularly if they aren’t used to being stabled.  Horses are naturally claustrophobic animals and you may find your horse goes off his feed, becomes “tucked up” and starts displaying habits such as box walking and weaving if he gets particularly stressed in the stable with all the loud noises outside.

If your horse reacts like this you can try a few things to help prepare him for fireworks although it is a difficult problem to solve completely due to the unpredictable and sudden way that noises like fireworks occur.  Try using ear covers as they will reduce the noise levels a little or you could research the use of equine ‘ear plugs’.  You can also try desensitising your horse to loud noises by playing music in the stable block.  Start with it on a low volume and monitor how he copes.  Once he is comfortable with a certain level, increase the volume.  By playing the music at feed time, you will begin to create an association with loud noise and food, hopefully reducing the chance of him going off his feed during the firework period. In your general handling of your horse, keep noise levels up, be it your talking or singing.  Do not worry about making some sudden noises as this will all go towards teaching him to cope with the loud noises of fireworks night.

Although it is sensible to stable particularly sensitive and highly strung horses or if there is a fireworks party in close proximity, I have found that by leaving horses in the paddock in their normal routine they soon settle after a period of excitement with the first fireworks.  I know my older horses hardly bat an eyelid now and this attitude transfers to the younger horses.  However, I am extra vigilant with regards to fencing and tend to take rugs off if I can to avoid them being caught or ripped.  I also like to take a quick walk round the fields before bedtime to check for any injuries and ensure they have plenty of hay to keep them otherwise occupied.  It is also important to not introduce new horses to a herd or move fields at this time as both can unsettle a group of horses and make them more prone to having a charge around.

I hope this fireworks night is trouble free for you!

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