Q: We have fairly recently moved on to a property that backs on to a quite built-up area with our two horses, who have previously only ever lived in a quiet rural property.
I am a bit worried about the impending Guy Fawke’s celebrations, and how the horses will cope with fireworks that are likely to be going on around us.
I do have yards, but I don’t know if it would be better or worse for them to be confined.
I could possibly take them to a friend’s farm for a night or two, but the trouble is that fireworks tend to be set off for several days (or even weeks) before and after November 5.
I thought about sedation, but I can’t exactly do that every night for two weeks either. What are your trainers’ advice?
It’s great to see that you’re concerned for your horse’s welfare.
You’re doing the right thing by thinking about what could go wrong.
Many people don’t think about these things and then wonder why their horses are injured.
If your horses are left out in the paddock, they may panic and gallop around.
There’s a good chance they’ll be looking at the fireworks and not look where they’re going.
I’ve seen horses gallop through fences and injure themselves when this happens.
It’s always best to leave your horses in a safe stable or yard in this situation.
The yard should be no bigger than about 20 feet (6 metres) square.
The yard should be at least six feet high so that your horses aren’t tempted to jump out if they do become frightened.
Make sure there are no bolts or protrusions that your horses can injure themselves on.
And don’t forget that horses often injure themselves on steel feed bins or water bins.
If your facilities are safe, you’ll have little to worry about even if your horses run around when the fireworks go off.
Stay with your horses if you’re worried or if it’s really noisy, otherwise check them every half hour to make sure they’re okay.
You can read about safe facilities in my book.
Most horse injuries are caused by unsafe facilities, not by fireworks or the horses being frightened.
Every horse person should spend time each week checking their yards, fences and paddocks to make sure there’s nothing that a horse can injure himself on.
Many times I see horses in paddocks and yards with all sorts of things that can cause injury.
Many times I see horses in wire yards and paddocks with steel picket posts.
It’s no accident when horses are injured in yards and paddocks like these.
Like everything else with horses, a little planning and common sense goes a long way.