Thinking of setting off fireworks?
Many people are not aware how much stress and suffering fireworks can cause to animals, particularly horses. As prey animals, even the most sensible of horses can be frightened by fireworks. By being proactive in planning for firework displays, or when considering whether to set fireworks off in your garden, you can make the celebrations less stressful for horses.
Anyone setting off fireworks, whether it is for a display or just a few fireworks in the back garden, should think carefully about their neighbourhood beforehand. If planning on using fireworks, do inform local horse owners in advance and reconsider setting off fireworks if horses are located close by.
Our Checklist for Horse Owners:
- Local newspapers, notice boards and radio stations may have information about the firework displays in your area.
- Ask neighbours and firework display organisers to inform you in advance if they are looking to set off fireworks. If there is a local fireworks display to be held near your horses, ask if it can either be moved to a more suitable location, or held as far from the horses as possible.
- We recommend keeping your horse in its familiar environment, in its normal routine, with any companions to make it feel secure, however consider alternative arrangements if this is close to where the fireworks will be set off.
- If you decide to stable your horse make sure you check thoroughly for anything that could cause potential injury, such as protruding nails, string and ensure the haynet is secured.
- If your horse is to stay in the field, check the fencing is secure and there are no foreign objects around.
- Ensure that yourself or someone experienced stays with your horse if you know that fireworks are being set off to try and keep them calm.
- If you are leaving your horse in the care of another person then be sure to leave clear instructions and contact details for both yourself and your vet should any problems arise.
- If you know your horse will be stressed, talk to your vet about possible options, including 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. Ensure your horse is used to the radio before the day of the fireworks being set off.
- 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 stressed.
- It may seem common sense but be aware of your own safety and do not put yourself in danger; a startled horse can be dangerous and unpredictable.
- 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.
Downloads & Resources
Why not download our Firework Poster, aimed at people setting off fireworks, 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.
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.