How can I prepare my horses for the fireworks on the 4th of July or New Year's?
Fireworks on holidays can be spectacularly frightening for horses. You have whizzing sounds, loud crashing bangs, and to top it off a light show high in the sky. This is a very tricky thing to train your horse for - considering that fireworks typically happen once or twice a year. The upside is that most firework displays are not super long.
Before I dive into some tips for you, please talk to your Veterinarian to discuss if sedation before the fireworks start is right for your horse. This may be appropriate if previous displays have put your horse into a blind panic. Be sure to know how far in advance to medicate your horse.
Here are some things that you can do to prepare your horse for a holiday fireworks display:
-Know your local fireworks laws! Many areas ban fireworks. Find out who you can call if you need to report some unruly hooligans.
-Find our when and where your local fireworks displays will be held. This will let you know what direction your horses will try to run from.
-Talk to your horse neighbors and your non horse neighbors. See if you can join forces and share ideas. Maybe a neighbor has some extra stalls for your pastured horses or vice versa?
-Play music in the barn. Many barns have stereo systems anyway, and turning up the volume during a fireworks display can help to cover up the bangs. Practice ahead of time to make sure your horses are OK with the increased noise.
Even the "DIY" fireworks can terrify horses. And dogs, cats, adults.
-Close windows and doors in the barn. This does a few things. You can block some noise, block some views, and also prevent escapes. A panicked horse through the window is not unheard of!
-Keep any barn lights on. This helps make the sight of fireworks not as shocking.
-Occupy your horses with some hay during a fireworks show.
-Use pom pom ear plugs to reduce the noise. This is also something you will need to practice using before the night of a show. They do no good if your horse won’t let you put them in!
-Be there in the barn and have a plan for any mishaps or accidents that occur.
What are your tips for dealing with fireworks??