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We’re sending a serious warning to horse owners and firework enthusiasts as we remember losing a much-loved horse after she was spooked by fireworks last year.
Thoroughbred mare Cinders was found unable to walk early one morning in November 2014 at Redwings Ada Cole. A nearby fireworks party the previous evening had panicked many of the horses, as could be seen by the churned up paddocks where they had galloped around in alarm.
A vet was immediately called to examine Cinders and treat her lameness, but unfortunately X-rays showed that, in her panic, she had partially dislocated the joint inside her hoof, a rare and severe injury. Sadly, the damage was irreparable and we had no choice but to put Cinders to sleep.
Cinders and her foal had been rescued in 2006. She was very emaciated when she was first found and her thin body was struggling to feed her young foal who had been born just a few days earlier.
Under the care of the Sanctuary, Cinders soon began to recover her health and strength, and after such a fantastic recovery and many happy years with her, the Ada Cole team were devastated to lose Cinders in such a tragic way when she was only 14 years old.
Fireworks are a worry for many animal owners and, as our Education Officer Andie Vilela highlights, it can be difficult to protect horses from the fear that fireworks often provokes:
“We would like to remind anyone who is planning a fireworks display, however small, to think about horses in their local area. Letting horse owners know well in advance where and when fireworks are going to be let off will enable them to plan and take action if needed. Keep fireworks as far from animals as possible and direct them away from fields and stables.
“Horses’ hearing is more sensitive than a human’s, and noises that are loud to us can be unbearable and terrifying to them. A frightened horse is a dangerous horse and there is little an owner can do to prevent an accident once the flight instinct has taken hold. Not only are horses at risk of injuring themselves, but they may break out of fields or stables and pose a risk to road users. Every year tragic incidents occur and the cost, both emotional and financial, can be immense.”
Most horse owners do as much as they can to protect their equines from fireworks; checking their local area for publicised events and finding the best way to keep their animals as safe and relaxed as possible. Leaving a radio on near a stable to help mask noise can be useful and ensuring fields are hazard free will help reduce the risk to galloping horses. In some cases owners may even move their horse to alternative accommodation or arrange for mild sedation with their vets. Download our helpful checklist for keeping your horse safe here.
However, the organisers of firework displays can make a real difference to reducing the risks and anxiety faced by horse owners. By raising public awareness of the dangers posed to horses by fireworks, we hope that tragic accidents like that suffered by Cinders can be avoided without dampening the spirit of the season.
Please report any incidents of horses being adversely affected by fireworks to the British Horse Society using their online form at www.bhs.org.uk/safety-and-accidents/report-an-incident