The fireworks on and around bonfire night can cause a lot of distress for horses and even result in very nasty accidents. With the 5th November fast approaching, you may be already considering ways to prepare your horse for bonfire night, including whether to use calmers and what time is best to give them their horse feed. The following quick guide highlights some of the things you might like to consider in the run up to November the 5th!
How To Prepare Your Horse For Bonfire Night
There are a number of things you can do in preparation for bonfire night. These include:
- Find out if there are any commercial displays planned nearby so you know the time and dates – if they are very close by you may want to stay with your horse at those times
- Speak to local display organisers and explain your concerns as they may be able to take measures to ensure debris doesn’t land in your fields
- If your fields border housing areas, why not put a note through your neighbours door with your contact details on. You can ask them to message you if they are planning to let off fireworks themselves or if they notice your horses getting distressed when you can’t plan to be there they can let you know
- Bring your horse in before it gets dark so you’re not trying to catch them whilst fireworks are being set off – this is important for your own safety too
- Play music outside their stable to help to mask any loud bangs, but introduce this before firework night so they get used to it
- Leave your stable lights on, as this can also help to lessen the impact of the bright lights flashing in the sky
- Stay with them during the scheduled times for a local display
- If your horse gets stressed around fireworks, consider moving them for the night or even speak to your vet about sedation
- Consider using a calmer
- Remain calm yourself and take care of your own safety
- Do not ride when there are planned displays nearby
How Do Calmers Work?
Calming supplements may be worth a try. The most common nutrient in single-ingredient calmers is magnesium. This has an important function in the transmission of nervous impulses. However, many horses already receive a diet that contains more than enough magnesium to meet their needs. There is no evidence that feeding more than required will help – counteracting a deficiency may well do which is why they are often thought to work initially but the effect may wear off.
Other ingredients include the B vitamins such as B1 (thiamine), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine) and tryptophan which is an amino acid are often included in horse feed for nutritional reasons but may also be helpful in a calming context too. There are also herbs such as chamomile which is widely believed to have calming properties. Valerian is another herb that may be beneficial but should not be used for horses competing under rules.
Hopefully this guide has given you some top tips for preparing your horse for bonfire night and caring for them over the period. If you are worried, speak to your vet who will offer advice.