Guest Author - Kim Wende
The 4th of July is always a fun holiday with all the fireworks, food, and family, but it can be scary to our horses. Some horses are not bothered by the loud noises while others are. You want to do what you can to ensure the safety of your horse.
First of all know your horse. Are they frightened by the loud noises and flashes from the fireworks? Do you know where they feel the most comfortable, is it the stall or the pasture?
If your confident they are more comfortable in the pasture leave them there. Make sure your fences are safe and that there are no other obstructions such as farm equipment, other large metal objects, fallen trees or holes. Don't put them in a stall just because it makes you feel better as it could really upset your horse especially if they are comfortable in the pasture when the fireworks are going on.
If you know your horse is afraid of the fireworks it is best to put them in a stall. Leaving them in the pasture could be a disaster. When horses get frightened they will run blindly and they might run through a fence or jump the fence. They could also trip and fall or step in a hole causing serious damage.
If you have a new horse and your not sure you may want to put them in a stall if it is available. If the stall has a top door make sure it is shut as you don't want them trying to jump over the stall door. If you don't have a stall and you know your horse will panic then put them in a smaller pen. I've heard of some people putting a halter and lead on to hold them, but if you're not an experienced handler don't do this as it can be very dangerous.
If you choose to leave them in the pasture and they start running blindly don't try to catch them as they are in a panic and are not thinking about you. Horses are big and can hurt you easily with their massive size.
It would be wise to have liability insurance because if for some reason your horse gets out and causes damage you will be held liable.
Here are some other things to help keep your horse safe:
1.) Calming products - there are several herbal supplements, essential oils and homeopathics on the market that will help to calm your horse. When using these make sure you start using them early enough for them to take effect. If need be ask your veterinarian for a mild sedative.
2.) If you put them in a stall give them plenty of hay as this can help keep them settled.
3.) Have a radio in the barn and have the volume at a moderate setting. Play something nice and soothing.
4.) If you have lights in the barn leave them on as that will lessen the flashes from the fireworks.
5.) Put them in with a calm horse or beside a calm horse who you know is not frightened of the fireworks.
6.) Give them a probiotic as the stress of the fireworks could cause them to colic. When they get stressed the gut will shut down so as a preventitive the probiotic can help.
7.) If they have sheets on take them off. Your horse may run and buck a lot which could cause the sheet to slip to one side or the other and this could cause them to get tangled in it.
If you have neighbors close make sure they are aware you have horses and ask that they shoot off their fireworks in the opposite direction. Be sure to check your pasture for any debris from the fireworks before you turn your horse back out in the pasture.
To prepare your horse for next year's fireworks buy one of the CD's on the market with these types of noises to help desensitize them to it. You could also get a cap gun and fire that off to help them get used to a loud noise.
Happy 4th of July to all of my fellow Americans! Stay safe and have a great time.