Horse Safety For Your 4th of July Fireworks
Independence Day, and commonly known as the 4th of July is near. This holiday has always been a concern at our ranch, especially if we have new horses that have joined the herd. Not only for the beautiful/loud noise fireworks, but also as we ride through the 4th of July Parades.
Please don’t wait until the day of the parade to get your horses used to the noise of everything, the crowds, the vehicles, fireworks and fire-crackers, etc. We always start at least a month ahead of time to start training the horses that will leave the ranch to be in the festivities in the towns.
If you don’t get to read this article before the holiday, and it’s a couple of days before you will be facing the noise, we will cover some tips and ideas that can help. We always encourage talking to your veterinarian about anything you see might be a problem on these special occasions.
Tips and Ideas to calm and help get your horses ready for the excitement.
Start early is the main key here. We always start with the de-sensitizing exercises for getting our horses used to noise. We start in the round corral (or smaller corral) and just start making noise. We beat on pots, drums, steel pipes on the corrals, honk the horns on our trucks, play the radio loud, talk through my bull-horn, shoot a cap gun, a fun noise maker are those little popper fire-crackers are good to keep throwing down, anything we can think of that might be heard in a parade or the fireworks display. Come up with your own ideas too.
Once the horses have settled down, or got used to the noise we will incorporated this noise into the barns, stalls, corrals, and even the pastures. We make noise when we’re feeding or even just walking by. The horses seem to enjoy what we will come up with next! NEVER personally yell and scream directly at your horses! DO NOT try to personally scare them. This should only be in training and just a passing by, non-nonchalant noise that they learn will not hurt them. After we make noise we always show the animals that we are their safe zone and there is nothing to worry about. Brushing and paying attention to them in good ways.
We use essential oils and herbal supplements to calm our horses. We use these different calming oils on a daily basis anytime we are doing training’s, trimming feet, or anything new.
If you know your horse has a history of fearful behavior in relation to fireworks, prepare in advance by talking to your veterinarian about whether acepromazine (often referred to as “ace”) might be a reasonable sedative/anxiety reliever for your horse. We only use “ace” in extreme cases. Only you and your Vet can make this personal decision, and be sure to follow the instructions closely. Acepromazine can be administered orally or by injection, remember it has only mild sedative effects and must be given at least 20-30 minutes in advance. Unfortunately, waiting until your horse is panicked and then giving acepromazine will likely have very little effect.
Being stalled inside the barn can help reduce the impact of noise on your horse, but make sure your horse is used to being in the barn and stalls. Don’t take a horse that’s never been in the barn or stall area for the first time and expect him to not have even more anxieties and panic. If you think this might be necessary to stall your horse, it’s best to get him used to being inside at night at least a few days in advance. Make certain your stall is safe with no sharp corners or edges or other hazards your horse could injure himself on if he starts to spin or pace. Avoid separating your horse from their herd unless they are accustomed to separation; almost all horses do better with their buddies.
Here are some other ways we have found to calm horses. Soothing music, (we use calming classical music on the barn radio at a moderate volume to help drown out the firework noise, our horses love Nora Jones). A friend of our uses the horse ear plugs (small foam balls that fit into the ear canal), but ours don’t like them. We have just stayed in the barn area with the horses while the fireworks are happening and talking, singing and controlling their attention. They know you are there and they seem to relax more. But that’s not always the case if you have noisy neighbors that shoot fireworks off all night long. A slow feeder sometimes helps. Don’t wait until the 4th of July or New’s Years Eve to try any of this out. Be prepared ahead of time is your best medicine!
Wishing you and your herd “Happy 4th of July”!
Stay safe and keep your animals safe, they’re depending on you.
Thank you Kimsom Doan, Kazuend, and Trent Yarnell for the photos. The flag horse is a creation of Carol Maples. Thank you for visiting our website.