By: THE HORSE.COM STAFF
The 4th of July is one of several holidays and events throughout the year celebrated with fireworks, parades, and numerous other festivities that can send horses into sensory overload. How do you keep your equids calm and safe during these holidays?
We recently asked owners to share their tips and experiences for keeping horses safe on the 4th of July. Here are some of their top tips, as well as advice from The Horse staff.
Stay Aware of Events in Your Area and Communicate with Neighbors
Be aware of scheduled firework displays in your area and neighborhood. Some areas have special ordinances in place, while others might not.
“Two years ago my next-door neighbors had a party and shot off fireworks from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m., nonstop,” said Jenni Johnson. “They are legal here. (My horses) don’t mind a few but by the end of that night we were all pretty upset.”
Chani Atrieadies said her neighbors give her about a 30-minute notice if they’re planning to use fireworks. “This gives me time to bring (my horses) in if they aren’t in already and a chance to grab my chair and bug repellent to go watch the show,” she added.
“I voiced my concerns to city officials,” said Kay Frederick.
Muffle the Sound of Fireworks with Static Noise
“We typically keep our horses in the barn and turn up the radio and fans to help drown out some of the loud noises from fireworks and nearby parties,” said Jennifer Whittle, TheHorse.com’s web producer.
Get Horses Accustomed to Loud Noises
Horses accustomed to loud noises might not have as severe a reaction to the loud noises. “We have cannons and guns firing near us twice a year at a Confederate cemetery, so fireworks are not a problem,” said Sandra Church.
Keep Horses Inside or Sheltered to Avoid Spooking and Runaways
Provide shelter away from the overhead crackling of fireworks.
“My boys have a run-in, and I place lots of hay in there so the sound is muffled, and so they can eat,” said Mary Bodane.
“My horses are behind tall trees,” said Marli Parker. “It is better if they hear but don’t see. I also have hay available. Chewing helps them relax.”
Secure, safe fencing is also important. “I make sure my electric fence is good in working order up to and during the holiday to ensure my horses know the fence is hot,” said Michelle Anderson, TheHorse.com’s digital managing editor. “In my dry region, that means keeping the area around my fence’s grounding rods damp to make sure the electric circuit is complete.”
Calming Agents and Sedatives
A few readers also mentioned using calming agents or herbal remedies to help keep horses calm.
Erica Larson, news editor of The Horse, consulted her veterinarian about keeping her gelding—who is on stall rest as he recovers from suspensory desmitis—quiet during fireworks so he doesn’t re-injure his ligament. “Fireworks haven’t been a problem in the past, but since Dorado will be the only horse in the barn during the night, my veterinarian prescribed a sedative for use if he seems agitated,” she said.
Know Your Horse
Some horses are more sensitive to firework displays than others. “My horses could not care less,” said Julianne Alley. “We have literally shot off fireworks over their heads and they didn’t flinch. I’m grateful that they are like that, because dealing with panicked horses on a small acreage is not easy.”
Others shared less than pleasant experiences with fireworks. “I lost a mare to colic the day after the fireworks,” said Kim Farmer.
However you end up celebrating July 4th, we hope it is a safe and enjoyable experience for both you and your horses!