Written by Dr Becky Lees BVSc Cert AVP (EM) MRCVS.
Many people enjoy bonfire night, but for us horse owners it can be an extremely stressful time of the year. Horses are flight animals which means that anything unexpected can startle them. Individual horses’ reactions can vary greatly and knowing what’s best for your horse can be a real challenge.
So how can you make bonfire night less stressful?
Firstly, find out when local displays are going to take place and stay in touch with your neighbours to find out if and when they are planning to let off fireworks.
Decide whether to stable or turn your horse out on the night of the fireworks. This of course will depend on how close the fireworks are and whether turnout is safe. Horses are creatures of routine, so keeping things as normal as possible is going to reduce stress and make them feel more secure. Bear in mind that it is difficult for a stressed horse to injure himself in a stable, while they can seriously hurt themselves in the field if, when frightened, they run through fencing.
If you know that your horse will be really stressed out consider doing one or more of the following:
- Rug your horse with a rug that will wick sweat away, but also keep them warm, such as a fleece.
- Consider using a calmer paste on the night. Nettex Calmer Syringe Paste Boost is ideal as it contains magnesium aspartate hydrochloride and L-Theanine, an anti-stress amino acid active from green tea, for a rapid calming effect during times of stress.
- Give your horse plenty of hay to keep him occupied.
- Give your horse a treat lick such as Nettex TastyLyx which can be hung in the stable and this will keep them interested and take their mind off noises outside. Nettex TastyLyx come in three delicious natural flavours; apple, carrot and mint.
- Many horses love molasses licks, and Nettex Supalyx are delicious sources of vitamins and minerals, plus they provide a great distraction.
- Leave a radio playing music in the background to help mask the loud noises and keep your horse calm. Getting your horse used to a radio before will really help.
- If you are concerned that your horse may have an extreme reaction discuss this with your vet before the night as oral sedation might be appropriate or consider moving your horse for the night.
- Make sure that someone experienced either stays with your horse or checks on them frequently during the evening.
- It is important to stay calm yourself as horses will sense unease and this will make them more stressed.
- Most importantly be aware of your own safety; a startled horse can be dangerous.
- Likewise, make sure that you have adequate third party liability insurance; if your horse is scared and escapes causing an accident, you will be responsible for any compensation.
- Check fields the following morning for any stray fireworks that may have landed there, as they have the potential to cause injury to your horse.
For all equine calmers, why not pay a visit to our Fireworks Shop? If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post them here or email us directly: [email protected]
Written by: Hannah