By: Sarah Banks
Some of you may live close to a big public area where there will be a big display of fireworks. Some may even live out in the country but have neighbors who do fireworks, or you may even do them yourselves on your own farm. Fireworks can be stressful for some horses due to the loud noise and lights, but there are ways that you can help your horse be comfortable and not as afraid on this night of celebration for humans.
Know What Your Neighbors and Community is Doing for the 4th of July
Keeping an eye on the community calendar and communicating with neighbors is a must so you know where to expect the loud noises from and when the fireworks will start and end. You can ask neighbors if they will give you a notice about an hour or even 30 minutes before they start shooting off fireworks so that you can prepare your horses.
Keep Horses in the Barn During Fireworks
Keeping your horses inside of the barn with the doors closed, if you have any, can help muffle the sound and help your horses relax. Close the barn windows so they won’t be able to see the fireworks and it will help muffle the sound even more. Set up a radio and put some calming music on, or any music really, and also turn the fans on. This will help make more noise in the barn to drown out any noise outside of the barn.
Keeping the horses inside will also ensure that they won’t accidently run through the fence outside from being spooked, or hurt themselves when running to try and escape the noises. Make sure your horse is used to being inside in their stall before you leave them in there, because if they are not used to it, that may cause them to panic or be nervous. Try and have at least one other horse inside near your horse, so they have a buddy, which will help them relax.
For those of you that do not have a barn, make sure they have a good run-in and put a lot of hay there. This will attract them to eat in the run-in and the hay will help muffle the sound of fireworks. Chewing on the hay can also help horses relax, so make sure they have lots of it.
If your horse stays outside, ensure that the electric fence is working well so the horses won’t be able to get out easily.
Acepromazine is a mild sedative that can be given orally or injected. For it to properly work and help your horse, you must give it at least 20-30 minutes before the fireworks start. If you wait until your horse is already panicking, it may not have much effect since it is only a mild sedative.
There are several herbal supplements you can use, but will only work to full effect if you start them days before. Some of these supplements include magnesium, valerian, and some others. If you ride in competitions, be sure to research and make sure that your horse can legally have them.
Have a great 4th of July! Stay safe and keep your equine friends safe too!