Even the most sensible of horses can be frightened by fireworks. The BHS has put together information to help you cope with fireworks, which are now seen on many occasions throughout the year.
Why not download our Firework Poster, aimed at firework display organisers, to distribute in your local area? We also have a Firework Safety poster and Fireworks leaflet aimed to offer advice and guidance to horse owners.
Have you had a problem with fireworks?
If you have experienced a problem with fireworks, please let us know by reporting the incident through our online form.
Help us to help you by collating statistics to show just how big the problem is.
We've put together this handy checklist for owners:
- Look at local newspapers and local shops’ notice boards and listen to the local radio station to find out where the displays will be in your area.
- Wherever possible, tell neighbours and local firework display organisers that there are horses nearby, so they can ensure fireworks are set off in the opposite direction and well away from them.
- Decide whether to stable your horse or leave it in the field. It is sensible to keep your horse in its familiar environment, in its normal routine, with any companions to make it feel secure as long as it is not close to the firework display area.
- If stabled, check thoroughly for anything that could cause potential injury, such as protruding nails and string. Ensure the haynet is secured so that your horse can't get caught up if they startle.
- If your horse is to stay in the field, check the fencing is secure and not broken and there are no foreign objects lying around.
- Ensure that you, or someone experienced, stays with your horse if you know that fireworks are being set off.
- If it is absolutely necessary for you to leave your horse in the care of another person during a firework display, then be sure to leave clear instructions and contact details for both you and your vet should any problems arise.
- If you know your horse will be stressed, talk to your vet about sedation, or perhaps consider moving your horse for the night.
- Playing music on a radio positioned outside the stable can often mask sudden noise, distract attention and be soothing. It is a good idea to get your horse used to the radio before the firework display.
- Try to remain calm yourself and keep positive, as horses will sense unease in a person and this may make things worse if the horse is startled.
- It may seem common sense but be aware of your own safety; a startled horse can be dangerous.
- Whatever you do – don’t risk riding when you think fireworks might be set off.
- Check if there will be a bonfire near your yard. If there is, make sure you have an emergency fire procedure in place. If you have any doubts, talk to your local fire safety officer.
- Make sure that you have adequate third party liability insurance. If your horse is frightened and escapes, causing an accident, then you could be held liable for compensation.
By being proactive in planning for firework displays, you can make the celebrations less stressful for you and your horse.
It’s not just horse owners who need to be careful. Anyone organising a firework display should inform local horse owners. It's also a good idea not to let fireworks off anywhere near fields or farms.
Most people don’t realise how much suffering fireworks cause to animals, particularly horses. If you really want to have fireworks in your back garden, please think carefully about how it will affect the local animals first.
For more information, refer to the laws related to fireworks by visiting the DEFRA website or if you are based in Scotland please read the Fireworks FAQS Scotland.