The COVID-19 pandemic and social-distancing regulations mean most organised fireworks displays are likely to be cancelled this year. Back-garden bonfires and fireworks nevertheless remain a perennial cause for concern for those of us with animals. In circumstances such as these, horses and ponies can sometimes benefit from some help to keep calm.
Bonfires and fireworks frighten horses
Make a note of the following dates when fireworks may be an issue for your horse or pony:
- Guy Fawkes – 5 November 2020
- Diwali – 14 November 2020
- New Year’s Eve – 31 December 2020
- Chinese New Year – 12 February 2021
Nervous horses and ponies don’t enjoy 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 with neighbours when they are having fireworks and bonfires
- Maintaining a steady, regular routine for your horse or pony
- Ensuring that wherever you keep your horse is safe from stray fireworks or bonfire embers
- Arrange a rota with friends to keep a watch on the yard 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 it is natural for them to become nervous or agitated at the bangs and flashes of fireworks and the smell of burning.
“Inevitably, nervous horses can 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 now and discuss the option of a prescribed medicine sedative. This may 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 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.”
Helping your horse stay calm with Ballinger Equine’s Calm Assist
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 may be obtained 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.