Horses need more protection from fireworks

Almost one in five equine vets dealt with firework related injuries to horses in just one year.

This sobering statistic was revealed in a survey run in 2018 by the British Veterinary Association and is a stark reminder of the dangers fireworks pose to animals, particularly to large flight animals like horses. The survey showed that 14% of small animal vets saw firework related injuries, but this increased to 19% for equine vets.

When frightened, a horse’s instinct is to run to safety. Trying to run from loud fireworks while contained in a paddock means the horse cannot find that safe place, so they are likely to keep running until either the fireworks stop or they become injured or exhausted. Running in panic like this makes horses a real danger to themselves and others, and this is reflected in the experience of equine vets and horse owners across the UK.

In 2016, Redwings suffered the tragic loss of two horses - Percy and Sprite - in one night as a result of extreme stress and injuries linked to nearby fireworks.

How can you help?

With traditional public displays restricted this year due to efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19, Redwings is asking anyone letting off their own fireworks to think carefully about the impact they may have on animals in their local area, particularly horses.

Having lost three Redwings residents in tragic firework-related incidents in recent years, we are passionate about helping people enjoy the season without adding to the distress fireworks can cause to horses and their owners.

Fear-free fun

There are lots of ways to keep 5th November relaxing for animals  - and for the many people who also associate this time of year with real anxiety:

  • Use other  traditional activities to make the most of the evening: make a Guy, build a bonfire, make toffee apples, cook jacket potatoes, write your name with sparklers, find out what regional recipes are associated with Bonfire Night where you live
  • If you decide to use fireworks, opt for those that are no-noise or low-noise.
  • Let people around you know when you are planning to let off fireworks, especially horse owners and equestrian yard managers, so they can adapt their routine if they need to
  • Raise awareness of the distress fireworks can cause by sharing this blog, our social media posts and using our Facebook profile picture frame
  • Ask local shops that stock fireworks to offer clearly-labelled low noise products

Like more information?

If you own or care for a horse, you can find practical information to help you prepare for fireworks this November.

You can also read our position statement on fireworks written in 2019.

If you care for smaller animals such as cats and dogs, check the BVA’s top tips on making home a safe place during firework season.

Hedgehogs numbers are falling dramatically, so don’t forget to check your bonfire carefully before lighting it.