Tomorrow is the Fourth of July and that means fireworks in many areas. Fireworks and horses are not a match at all. In my veterinary career I have treated many horses, including my own, that were seriously injured by running into or through fences when they were frightened by the loud noise and flashing lights of fireworks.
There are a few precautions you can take to keep your horse safe and hopefully lessen his fear over the holiday.
1. Walk your pasture or pen and make sure there are no protruding objects, weak or low places in the fence. A pastured horse is likely to run some when fireworks start so you don’t want them stepping in a hole or getting hung up in the fence.
2. If your horse has never been around fireworks and you don’t know how he will respond the safest thing would be to put him up in a secure stall. If you have electricity to the stall, leave the lights on and a radio playing to provide a distraction.
3. It is not too late to do some conditioning to help you horse be less frightened of loud noise. Tie him to a safe, strong overhead branch so he can move his feet and then get a radio or music player that you can turn up loud. Start low and then increase the volume while walking around your horse. Turn the volume down when your horse relaxes. Once your horse accepts the constant loud noise try turning the volume up and down sharply until this is also accepted. You may not get this lesson done in one session but you can get started.
4. Flower essences like Rescue Remedy or CrisEase can help your horse relax in frightening situations. They work best if you give them before the horse is upset. Start the day before by giving a dose directly in your horses mouth or mixed with his water. A few drops is all it takes. Some people also mix up the flower essences in a spray bottle with water and spray the stall or barn area. You can get Rescue Remedy or a similar product at most health food stores.
Take these simple steps and the Fourth of July can be a fun holiday with no injuries to deal with. Madalyn