With bonfire night swiftly approaching, many horse owners may be worrying about the risk fireworks could pose to their horses.
Acting early can give you plenty of time to prepare – we all know to expect fireworks on bonfire night, but some displays may begin a couple of days before or after.
We’ve outlined our top tips to help you get ahead in order to minimise the risk of fireworks:
- Try to keep your horse in their normal routine to minimise any stress.
- Risk assess your stable yard and fields. As best practice this should be done as part of your weekly/monthly routine, but this offers a good opportunity to check.
- Make sure your fencing/stable is secure and there are no sharp objects from which your horse could injure themselves if they panic.
- All yards must have your emergency contact details with your fire evacuation plan: Have you checked your fire safety equipment? When did you last talk, walk through and review your fire evacuation plan with everyone on your yard? It’s a good time for a yard tidy up to prevent the spread of fire and make sure all routes are clear for ease of access.
- Find out if there are any displays planned near to where your horse is kept. Check the local newsletter and notice boards to see if there are any commercial displays planned. Speak to your local parish council to see if they are aware of any.
- Be proactive and warn local organisers, schools and neighbours that there are horses in the area. Ask that they inform you of timings for the fireworks being set off so you can prepare.
What to do on the night
The best thing you can do is to remain calm and stay positive as your horse will pick up on your unease. It’s best to keep your horse's routine wherever possible, but if you know when fireworks are starting, try to stay with your horse and play music to soften the sound.
There’s no evidence either way to suggest whether it’s safer for your horse to be in their stable or out in a field. If your horse prefers to be inside, leave stable or barn lights on — it could help to lessen the effect of bright lights and flashes. Other horses may prefer to be outside where they can see the fireworks. If you decide to turn your horse out, check your field is safe, secure and not close to where the display is happening. All it takes is one stray firework to prompt a horse to test boundaries.
Report any incidents to the BHS
We're encouraging equestrians and the wider public to log any firework concerns using the Horse i app. Logging these incidents will help us to better understand the rate of equine-related incidents across the UK and critically, lobby for change in equine safety laws.
Most recently our incident figures helped to inform new firework laws in Scotland, with the Safety department and Scottish team having been directly involved in the Scottish Firework Stakeholder group.
Under the updated act, councils in Scotland can now designate Firework Control Zones where it’ll be a criminal offence to ignite or knowingly throw a lit firework. Organised public firework displays will still be permitted within these zones to allow people to enjoy fireworks safely.