Bonfire night for horse owners can be a terrifying time. Whilst many people around the country are enjoying the pretty lights in the sky, many pet owners are sat willing the evening to end.
Realistically, however much we protest and ask neighbours to be vigilant and think twice about letting dozens of fireworks off, they usually still go ahead thinking we're just being spoilsports. When in reality we are just thinking of our animals.
There are plenty of ways to make your horses more comfortable this bonfire night and hopefully you will find some my tips help a little...
Remember, always plan ahead. Whilst bonfire night used to be the one night of the year fireworks were let off, you can now guarantee people start letting them off at least a week before and then a few days after the 5th November!
- Do your research. Find out when and where the displays in your area are going to happen. Ask neighbours if and when they will be letting any fireworks off. Try and find out specific times, so if need be you can be with your horse during that time.
- If you find out that there is going to be display nearby then it is best to stable your horse to avoid him doing any damage to himself outside. Something simple like shutting the top door of your stable can lessen the effect of flashing lights. If your horses are stabled in barns then shut all the barn doors - although your horse will still be able to hear the fireworks, he at least wont be able to see the constant flashing of lights.
- If your horse cannot come in, or is better in a situation like this being outside then ensure your field is well secured. Check fencing is safe and their field is not close enough to a display that it could cause a fire.
- Think of what takes your mind off something you don't like. Many humans don't like thunder, so they put the radio on. Your horse is just the same; try putting the radio on when you know there is going to be a lot of noise from local fireworks. This will mask the sound of them.
- Keep him occupied; give him plenty of hay, a Snak-a-Ball or even a Likit to take his mind off the loud crashes and bangs.
- Do you like someone with you when you're scared? Horses are just the same! If you can, stay with them as your presence may have a calming effect. However, if your horse isn't relaxed then do not go in the stable with him unless you absolutely know he wont try to harm you. This may be accidentally or on purpose and sometimes they don't mean to but can cause you harm in stressful situations.
- If you know your horse reacts badly to fireworks, don't leave things until the last minute - plan ahead! Contact your vet and ask for some sedation, especially if you know there is going to be a particularly large display that is bound to upset him.
- Make sure you have sand and water nearby in case of a fire around the stables. If you're on a livery yard then ensure you are familiar with fire precautions. Make sure you know where you should go with your horse just in case there is a fire.
- The morning after any night you have heard fireworks you should always check your horses field. Fireworks that have strayed my have landed there and be a risk to your horse.Walking the whole perimeter of the field will allow you to ensure you have removed all fireworks that could have strayed.
One thing to remember is that all horses are different. Some react differently to fireworks and whilst a few on your yard may not be scared, others may be petrified. Take each individual horses needs in to consideration and work out what you can do to ensure they all have the most comfortable and quiet night as possible.
Don't be afraid to send your neighbours a polite notice asking them to keep their display to a minimum. Or maybe even just ask them to have their display the furthest away from your horses as possible. If you don't ask, you have no right to complain.
Here is a handy hint to help you remember what to do on bonfire night:
- Fireworks must not be set off near livestock or horses in fields or stables
- It is best to keep your horse in its normal routine
- Risk assess your stable yard and plan to limit disturbance
- Ensure you find out if there are any displays planned nearby
- Warn local organisers, councils and schools that there are horses in the area
- Organise your plans in advance
- Remain calm and positive yourself as horses will sense your unease
- Keep your horse in a familiar environment
- Safety for everyone is the key - do not put yourself in danger
If you have any other tips then please comment below or tweet me @FurryMane
Make sure you check out my blog: http://sianlovatt.blogspot.co.uk/