Top tips for grooms caring for horses through the firework period!
It’s the time of year many animal owners dread – firework night! Although, especially when the 5th November falls on a weeknight, fireworks are let off most nights of the week for 2-3 weeks! Not only a stressful time for animals and their owners, but for grooms caring for horses through the firework period, too. Keeping everyone (both four and two footed) safe throughout this period is a concern for everyone, so we’ve gathered some top tips for grooms caring for horses and other animals through this time of year.
Making preparations for firework displays
- First and foremost, liaise with your employer (and the horse owners, if applicable) about how best to manage the yard and horses over the coming weeks.
- Do make sure you are adequately insured, especially if you are working on a freelance/self-employed basis. Accidents do happen to the best of us!
- Make sure you and your team members have and KNOW a clear procedure for the event of a fire, and that all fire equipment is in good working order and is easily accessible. You can always ask your local Fire And Rescue Service for advice on safety equipment and procedures. Locate your local Fire And Rescue Service here.
- Find out in advance when all the local organised firework displays are scheduled so you can plan for each night. It’s worthwhile contacting the organiser for a friendly chat about timings and to ask if fireworks can be directed away from your yard, if possible.
- Liaise with adjoining neighbours, especially those with children, about their plans for fireworks at home. Again, have a friendly chat with them about how they can work with you to minimise distress and danger to the horses, for example, by directing fireworks away from the yard where possible.
- Do check all the fencing is secure and make sure there are no obvious hazards if the horses should start galloping around.
- Likewise, check all stables for potential hazards.
- Check all the stables for any obvious dangers should a horse panic at any point.
- Remember that barns, stables, hay/straw bales etc are at risk from stray fireworks, so consider any precautions you could take to minimise risks. For example, tidying away stray hay and straw piles, closing barn doors and windows, pinning up a blanket over openings, or securing a tarpaulin over exposed bales.
- Be cautious about hanging toys like Likit treats for horses throughout the firework season. It may be a welcome distraction, but you don’t want to introduce a new hazard to their stable if they’re likely to panic. If in doubt, discuss it with your work colleagues and/or employer, even if it’s for your own horse.
Caring for horses during the firework period
- You may wish to factor in your feeding times against firework display times/high risk times, especially if your horses will be out. You wouldn’t want horses panicking and/or galloping around on a full stomach.
- Horses that are usually field-kept will probably feel more comfortable out in the field with its regular companions, despite the fireworks.
- For horses that are stable-kept, leaving the lights on and putting a radio on (not too loudly though!) can help mask firework noises and be soothing.
- It may be worth considering removing water buckets for the duration of the display if a spooky horse is at risk of getting caught up or flooding their bedding in a panic. Just don’t forget to replace the buckets once the display has finished!
- Make sure you and your team members are geared up – wear a riding hat, gloves and adequate footwear when handling horses during a firework display.
- If a local firework display is going to take place, make sure at least one (preferably at least two of you) stay with the horses until you know it has finished.
- Don’t be tempted to ride or exercise horses whilst fireworks are being let off.
- If things get difficult or start going wrong, don’t panic, try to stay calm – the horses in your care will pick up your distress very easily.
- ALWAYS apply common sense! You know the horses you care for, so try to be sensible about managing them through this period of time. Discuss precautions and procedures with your employer and your fellow team members.
American website Think Like A Horse have recorded a quirky delivery of observations on how horses perceive and react to fireworks…
Caring for dogs and other pets during the firework period
- Close windows and curtains to reduce the noise and flashes of fireworks.
- Putting on music, the radio or the TV can help mask the noise too.
- Cats in particular can benefit from having hidey-holes to retreat to.
- Make sure your pets are micro chipped and that the details registered are up to date and correct!
- For hutch and cage-kept animals, partly cover and pens with blankets so an area is muffled and hidden, but keep a place for the animals to look out through.
- Burrowing animals will benefit from deep bedding to hide within.
- If possible, you might want bring small pets inside for the noisiest nights, but do prepare for this so the change of routine and environment isn’t sudden and doesn’t add to their distress and confusion.
The RSPCA have recorded a great video with top tips on helping pets through Firework Night…
For advice on fire safety and procedures you can locate and contact your local Fire And Rescue Service here.