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Top tips for firework safety

This time of year can be a difficult time for horses and their owners. You only have to look at the latest figures to see that fireworks can cause great distress and trauma.

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Since 2010, our Safety Team has received almost 1,030 incident reports involving fireworks, including 270 horse injuries, 69 human injuries and 35 horse fatalities.

While the big bangs and bright lights illuminating the sky can frighten even the most sensible horse, there are some ways owners can prepare ahead of Bonfire Night to keep their horses safe. 

We’ve outlined our top ten safety tips:

  1. Try to keep your horse in their normal routine to minimise any stress.

  2. 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.
  3. 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.

  4. In the lead up, try desensitising your horse to loud bangs — there are various CDs available that can be played to your horse at low level. You can slowly increase the volume as they become more comfortable with the noise.

  5. Remember to remain calm and positive as horses will sense your unease. For those of you who are unable to be with your horse, perhaps organize a ‘rota’ covering a few nights and discuss and agree a strategy with your yard owner and fellow liveries so that everyone has support.

  6. You could also play music in their stable to dull the sound of the bangs — again this would need to be introduced prior to the night so they can acclimatise.

  7. Leave the stable or barn lights on — it could help to lessen the effect of bright lights and flashes. Meanwhile, if your horse is in a well-ventilated barn, close the main doors to limit the effects of the fireworks.

  8. If you have serious concerns of your horse’s reaction, or if there is a large fireworks display planned close to your horses, consider moving your horse away from built up areas for a few nights if possible.

  9. We're urging all equestrians to report every incident involving fireworks, regardless of the severity, to the BHS. Reporting your incidents helps us to better understand the rate of equine-related incidents across the UK.

Download our 'Horse i' app to your smart phone so you can quickly and easily submit details of incidents directly to the BHS.

Learn more about how to keep your horse safe, and the legislation that surrounds fireworks.