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Fireworks and Frightened Horses

Horses and ponies are flight animals and naturally tend to run from fire

It is the time of year again when bonfires are set alight and pyrotechnics are launched into the night sky. Whilst many people enjoy organised displays and back garden sparklers accompanied by hotdogs, burgers and smoky corn-on-the-cob, our horses and ponies find the evening’s proceedings worrying and often terrifying.

Horses and ponies run from fire

Upcoming dates for fireworks include:

  • Diwali 27 October 2019
  • Guy Fawkes 5 November 2019
  • New Year’s Eve 31 December 2019
  • Chinese New Year 25 January 2020

Nervous horses and ponies will not appreciate fire, smoke and the bangs, bright flashes and acrid smells of fireworks. Some sensible tips to help manage your horse or pony during the evenings around November’s Guy Fawkes night include:

  • Checking whether there is a fireworks event close to where your horse is kept
  • Continuing a steady normal routine for your horse
  • Ensuring your field or stable is safe from stray falling fireworks or bonfire embers
  • Arrange for a watch to be kept on the yard and horses during the evenings
  • Consider leaving the yard lights on overnight
  • Keep the number of your vet posted on the stable door

Dr Susanna Ballinger, veterinary director at Ballinger Equine says:

“Horses are flight animals, so they are quite likely to become nervous or agitated at the sounds and flashes of pyrotechnics and the smell of burning. In their natural state they would run away from such things.

“Inevitably some horses will become very stressed by fireworks. If you have a nervous horse and you know there will be fireworks and bonfires close to where your horse is kept, don’t wait until 5 November. Contact your vet in advance and discuss the option of a prescribed medicine sedative. This may then be administered prior to the onset of the stressor event to sedate your horse and prevent agitated behaviour.”

“Not all horses are frightened by fireworks. I know of some who actually seem to enjoy the show and most will not need anything at all. If in doubt talk to your vet and discuss what is best for your own horse or pony.”

Equine feed supplements – Calmers

For horses and ponies of a nervous disposition a calmer fed in accordance with your vet’s instructions can be invaluable. Ballinger Equine’s own veterinary grade Calm Assist can be purchased without prescription directly from our online pharmacy and is best fed in the days leading up to the anticipated stressful event.

Calm Assist comprises a veterinary formulated combination of magnesium, L-tryptophan and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, designed to be fed as a nutritional adjunct to help maintain normal nervous function in potentially anxious and stress-prone horses and ponies. It is available for purchase directly via the Ballinger Equine online pharmacy, through a Ballinger Equine veterinary surgeon or by ‘phoning the Practice office on 01462 414008.

For competitors, the good news is that the entire Ballinger Equine branded range of supplements is guaranteed free of naturally occurring prohibited substances.