There is no doubt that some neighborhoods will be enjoying a small pyrotechnics for New Year’s Eve. Here is some sage advice on how to keep your horse safe and reduce stress during the festivities.
A little New Year’s Eve light show may be enjoyable for us humans as we ring in the new year, but for many of our horses, fireworks can be quite a traumatic experience. Some horses are spooked by fireworks and we like to do our best to reduce the distress.
Before the Festivities Begin
1. Take current photos of your horses in case they escape
Our good friend Amanda Uechi Ronan shares, “I photograph both sides and get a detailed shot of each horse’s face. A police officer once recommended taking the photo with myself or a family member, to be used in the event someone else tries to claim my horse.” Ideally the photos below should be on flat ground and the horse’s markings (including legs!) should be easy to identify. Think coggins conformation photos!
Photos like these are good examples (they just need a family member!):
2. Supplements can be your friend!
For some horses, supplements can help take the edge off. Just be careful about what you use if you have a competition that bans certain substances. SmartPak does offer SmartCalm, which is safe to use under most regulations (but check your rulebooks to be sure!).
3. Hang out with your four-legged pals
You don’t necessarily have to ride. Some horses may get more tense being worked, but having you around to groom and help calm his nerves may keep your horse from worrying about the party outside the barn.
4. Prepare for injury
Always be prepared. No matter what time of year and what holiday, be ready for an injury (if horses have taught me anything, it is this). Keep an appropriate first aid kit on hand to treat any wounds should your horse spook and hurt him or herself… or one of his or her pasture mates. If you want to know what to put in your equine first aid kit, you can find helpful information here.
5. Kiss up to your neighbors
Also from Amanda Uechi Ronan, “This is something I just started last year and the goodwill came back in folds. Basically, I threw together a bunch of snack foods and drinks in goodie baskets and gave them to every neighbor within a quarter mile. Attached was my cell phone number and a little note asking them to text a quick head’s up before they started shooting fireworks. The plan worked beautifully, giving me plenty of time to safely tuck my herd away.” After all, a little goodwill goes a long way.
During the Festivities
1. Check everything twice — and then check it again
Keep horses and livestock in safely fenced areas and as far from the excitement and noise as possible. Check your fences, check your gates, check your stalls. Then check them again.
2. Leave on the lights and radio
Sometimes it’s not so much the loud noises and bright lights that scare horses, but the sudden loud noises and bright lights. Some background noise can help lessen the surprise from the unexpected booms and bangs. Having a base line from a radio softly playing and a few overhead lights can help soften the blow.
3. Load them up with hay
An eating horse is a happy horse. Keep them stationary and plugged into that small hole hay net.
After the Party
1. Check everything again
Walk your pastures and fence lines. Look for areas where a fence may have gone down that you missed and check your pastures for firework debris.
Take a breath and relax, knowing you and your horse survived yet another instance of otherwise sane (maybe?) people blowing things to kingdom come.
Need even more information? Horsemart created this infographic on how to keep your horse calm when there are fireworks around:
Happy New Year, Horse Nation! Go riding.