Owners report of horses “running in blind panic” over Bonfire weekend due to the stress and trauma caused by fireworks, according to the largest equine charity in the UK, The British Horse Society (BHS).
They are urging people to think before setting off fireworks near horses and other livestock. 25 incidents involving fireworks were reported to the charity over the weekend, with four horses being injured. In total since 2010, 168 incidents have been reported. Tragically 49 horses have been injured and 11 horses have died as a result of fireworks being used near them.
Horses are “flight” animals, meaning they will probably move away quickly from a perceived threat. When fireworks are near them, the loud noise and smoke can cause them to react and move away quickly – this can mean trying to get out of the stable or field. In Lincolnshire, one horse was severely injured after fleeing from fireworks; after running onto the A57 and being hit by a car.
The owner of Willow, the horse that ran onto the A57 told us: “Willow has experienced the most traumatic time of her life when there was no need for the pain, suffering and tragedy due to people’s negligence. Many people enjoy fireworks over bonfire and New Year but people fail to realise the effects they have on livestock, owners finances and repercussions when they are used by the general public”.
The situation is so bad, that some horse owners are forced to get vets out to sedate their horses – resulting in extra costs. One horse owner says their horse was spinning in the stables, another said her horse was “running in blind panic, dripping with sweat and absolutely terrified”. Some horse owners have even reported of fireworks been let off just ten yards away from their horses.
Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety at The British Horse Society, said: “These figures are just the tip of the iceberg and in reality the number of horses injured or even killed is much higher. Fireworks may be fun for humans, but we don’t want horses to go through trauma or distress.
We urge anyone who is planning on setting off fireworks now, or next Bonfire Night, to reconsider. Or, at the very least, give horse owners in the area prior warning and listen to their concerns”.
A petition by Julie Doorne calling for a change of the laws governing fireworks use has received almost 100,000 signatures on the parliament website.