They are big, beautiful pops of color across the night sky. They are also loud and potential fire hazards. We are, of course, talking about fireworks! Even the most calm horse can get scared by a big booming fireworks display and take off running in a panic. Here are some tips on how to keep your equine charge safe and calm on the 4th of July.
Evaluate your horse’s fireworks history. Some horses have a surprising lack of interest and fear when it comes to fireworks, especially if their owner and herdmates are calm.
If your horse has a history of being stressed and scared, talk with your veterinarian about calming supplements or prescribing a sedative.
Know when and where the big fireworks shows are going to be and plan accordingly. If your neighbors tend to put on big displays, talk with them about what time they are planning on starting and where they are going to be staging the show.
Stage fireworks in a location away from your horses, barn and hay. This will help minimize the risk of scaring your horse and prevent potential fires from sparks or misaimed fireworks.
Make sure you have fire safety procedures in place and fire extinguishers and water hoses handy, just in case. If your horse is boarded, check with the facility owner or manager to see that they have safety procedures in place.
Make sure fencing, gates and doors are secure and in good repair. Nothing could be worse than a horse running panicked down the street or through a fence. Make sure you have current photos just in case they do get out (microchips can also be helpful for identification).
Keep your horse with their friends. A calm horse can help provide comfort to a horse that is worried and boost their confidence.
Keep your horse in familiar surroundings. Identify where your horse is most comfortable and keep them there. If there is a chance they will get scared and run, keep them in a confined area, such as a stall.
Alternatively, consider taking your horse to another facility if there is going to be a massive fireworks display or a lot of neighbors shooting them off near your barn. Find somewhere that your horse will be comfortable, especially if they aren’t used to traveling.
Don’t ride during the fireworks, even in an indoor arena. This is just asking for trouble!
Keep them occupied with extra hay or a slightly delayed dinner. Food can be a great distraction!
Play soothing music (preferably classical or traditional country) to help drown out the loud noises (but make sure your horse isn’t too stressed by loud music).
Keep the lights on. This will help minimize the flashes of light the horse experiences when fireworks are exploding.
After all is said and done, make sure you check around your barn and pastures for fireworks debris. Be cautious if you come across something that doesn’t look like it is spent.
What we hope for on the 4th: calm, quiet & happy horses