Prepare for fireworks...
Bonfire season is upon us and it is essential we take precautionary measures to prepare for fireworks when it comes to our horses, this is to ensure we get through this period safely and with as little stress as possible. Here are some of our tips for preparing and managing your horse's routine.
What can you do to help keep your horse calm?
- Be prepared. Find out about when firework displays are on, where they will be set off from and the duration of any nearby events which may affect your horses. This will allow you to plan the best actions to take when it comes to keeping your horse safe and comfortable.
- Where possible do not change your horse's routine. If you horse is normally out at night, keep them out, but check that all fencing is safe and secure to help prevent them escaping or becoming injured if spooked. If you think your horse would be better off indoors, bring them in a few days in the run up to the event. If your horse is stabled ensure you check for any potential hazards such as protruding nails.
- Enrichment in the stable can help keep your horse distracted. You could try giving your horse a toy to play with such as a Bizzy Ball or Likit. This may divert your horse's attention for the duration of the fireworks.
- Take measures to buffer the sounds from fireworks. Keep the barn doors shut where possible to help reduce the sound of any loud bangs and play the radio to help mask any spontaneous noises. A German study found that playing a relaxing soundtrack in the barn significantly reduced salivary cortisol levels (a marker for stress).
- Plan to have someone experienced check on the horses regularly during the duration of the fireworks and keep all horse's veterinary details to hand in case of an emergency.
- Consider feeding a nutritional supplement to support your horse during stressful times and help improve their anxiety response. For optimum results look for products containing magnesium, tryptophan and calming herbal extracts. If you are planning on competing around the time you use the calmer, check it is clean sport compliant, there are many approved calmers available on the market. Ensure the calmer is administered prior to the event, when the horse is happy and calm, before the horse becomes stressed.
- Stay positive and keep calm. horses can sense stress in their riders and handlers, so by keeping yourself calm and relaxed you will help your horse to stay relaxed too.
- Stay safe. Never put yourself in a potentially harmful situation if your horse becomes spooked they can become dangerous.
Plan ahead and prepare for fireworks to help to make them less stressful for you and your horse. It is important to have safety measures in place, in case of an emergency and if your horse is particularly anxious around this season it is a good idea to contact your vet for advice.
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