Here are 5 Top Tips for anxious horses to help manage fright this Bonfire Night.
Bonfire Night fireworks can be fun for some when organised in a way that safety is considered for all – including animals in the surrounding areas. However, as many horse owners know, the week leading up to, alongside the night itself (and thereafter) can be a very unpleasant experience for both equines and pets at home.
If you’re an owner and understandably worried, discover our top tips on how to manage anxiety and safety for your horse or pony in our article below.
5 Top Tips
- Yard plan – safety in numbers – Discuss a plan with the yard owner, and others who have their horse/s on DIY. Horses feel safe in numbers – so with this in mind, make sure either all horses are stabled, or out in a secure field/paddock. Do try, however, not to deviate from your horse’s normal routine too much. Make sure there is at least one person on the yard to monitor all of the horses, with all up-to-date veterinary numbers and details at hand. Anxiety in horses can cause unwanted digestive upset such as colic, so it is best to be prepared. Keep your phone near you and on loud at all times.
- Choose a reputable calmer such as Placid, from Dodson and Horrell. It’s recommended to introduce a calmer supplement in enough time for your horse or pony to feel the benefits. Also, a high-fibre meal in this instance can be preferred over cereal, as fibre will act as a soother should the horse suffer from episodes of stomach acid, due to stress.
- Minimise energy levels – Make sure your horse has adequate turnout throughout the day for a longer period than normal, particularly on Bonfire Night. If able, remove the rug so your horse is less likely to build up a reserve of energy – plus it’s always good to let fresh air get to the horse’s coat. For those horses with a clip, you may opt for a lighter rug.
- Exercise – If able, before it gets dark or late on, lunge or ride your horse. Lunging is a good way to use energy in a short amount of time – that could alternatively be turned into nervous energy primed for use later in the evening. Try to tire (within reason) your horse before the evening’s event – riding may not be advisable early evening in the case of any unexpected fireworks being let off.
- Stable gear and field – If your horse is stabled, remove hanging rugs, rug bars, and unnecessary items your horse may hurt themselves on. A hanging treat to distract the horse is perfectly fine. Make sure all stable door fastenings are secure and remove anything from immediately outside the stable. Horse to be left in the field? Collectively, sweep the field for broken fencing, large rocks and fill in holes the morning before. Machinery should be removed in any case, as it is likely if horses are running, that one may run into an unnecessary stored item in the dark. Make sure field gates are secure, and nylon headcollars are removed.
Although not extensive, we hope this list helps minimise the risk of your horse becoming too anxious – or potentially hurting themselves this Bonfire Night.