5 ways to survive Bonfire Night with your horse

With Bonfire Night fast approaching and with impatient firework buyers already trying out their purchases, we thought it was time to look at some things you can do to keep your horse (and you!) safe and well over the 5th November celebrations.

1. Where will the fireworks be?

As we near the 5th November, keep your ears and eyes open for any adverts or comments about nearby firework displays. This is easier said than done, as it’s likely that only the official displays will be advertised in local press or on noticeboards, but harnessing the dual power of word of mouth and social media may help you to find out if any of your neighbours are also planning on letting off their own fireworks.

2. Preparation

It’s strongly recommended your horse is kept to his normal nighttime routine as much as is possible. If your horse usually lives out overnight, assuming his field isn’t right next to the display area, it’s a good idea to do a thorough inspection of your horse’s field ahead of time to make sure there aren’t any nails, sharp bits of fencing, etc. that could potentially cause injury to a worried horse, and that there isn’t anything lying around in the field itself.

If your horse is stabled, checking the stable for anything sharp enough to cause an injury, or any bits of string or baler twine is a sensible idea, as is potentially putting a radio in the stable to provide a bit of background noise and mask some of the firework noise.

Make sure you have a plan of action in case a firework lands where it shouldn’t, or any associated bonfire gets out of control.

Also, make sure both you, your horse, and any buildings you use to stable your horse in, are properly insured in case something untoward does happen.

3. ‘Keep calm and carry on’

As every horse owner knows, horses are experts at picking up on your emotions. Keeping a ‘normal’ demeanour around your horse is essential, but especially so when you know your horse may become unsettled by the loud noises and flashes associated with fireworks.

It’s recommended that you stay with your horse to keep him company while the fireworks go off, though make sure you’re doing this safely.

Also, as well as ensuring your horse is fully insured in case he hurts himself, make sure you are also insured in case your horse takes fright, escapes and causes an accident to others. Known as ‘third party liability insurance’ being covered under one of these policies could prevent you from being liable for compensation if your horse damages either people or property.

4. Ask the vet

If you know your horse will have an extreme reaction to any firework flashes and bangs and you can’t remove him from the place he’s usually kept, you may want to speak to your vet about possible sedation. This is not often needed but can be administered either through an injectable sedative or through a commercially available oral calming paste.

5. Taking a trip

If you know your horse really won’t cope, or the fireworks are too close to where you keep your horse for him to stay, it might be time for him to take a little holiday to another yard. You could even use it as an excuse to have a last-minute mini-break with your horse in a location that’s new to both of you, although as mentioned above, it’s best to check where the fireworks will be before booking!

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