Fear, Anxiety, and Stress (FAS) is experienced by all species, and horse owners know this instinctively. Loud, sudden noises that fireworks create can make your horse feel afraid. One study showed that up to 80% of horses are afraid of fireworks.
A horse’s primary response to fear is to run away – and during the 4th of July Holiday celebrations this running response can lead to problems. Horses are large and move quickly, which leads to a lot of force and impact injuries. Every year our veterinarians treat horses injured by fences or pasture mates as a result of horses responding fearfully to fireworks.
You will need to make a judgement call as to how to manage your horse during fireworks, taking into consideration your horse’s personality and your farm or stable set-up. Some ways to prevent injury include:
Keep your horse in a safe space. Make sure fences are in good repair, and that your horse is in a familiar area.
Make sure your horse has plenty of hay or forage to keep him occupied. A treat puzzle toy or food dispenser may also help keep his mind busy and off the sudden noise.
Keep your horse inside. In a small stall, he will not be able to gain speed, so any collisions will induce less trauma. To some extent, you may also be able to help a horse who is indoors by playing music that will help muffle or drown out the sudden noises that fireworks create. Another way to muffle the noise is to use ear poufs or ear plugs made for horses.
Use a calming supplement – few are scientifically proven to work, though anecdotally seem to help horses. The one with the most research support is Zylkene Equine. Zylkene is a component of milk that is part of the relaxation that occurs when a foal suckles.
Confidence EQ is a synthetic analog of the Equine Appeasing Pheromone (EAP). Pheromones are species-specific chemicals that are secreted by one animal and then inhaled by another. The chemicals have an effect on the behavior of the receiving animal. They are the main way that insects find mates. In this instance, EAP is secreted by a mare as she nurses her foal. EAP enhances calmness, and signals a safe, secure environment.
Consider using a sedative – we recommend Dormosedan Gel® because it has approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so it has been proven effective and is safe for most horses. It takes about 45 minutes to absorb and cause sedation, and lasts for 4-6 hours. Click here to watch a video to learn more about Dormosedan Gel®
Please contact our office in advance so we can help you prepare your herd for July 4. We want everyone to have a safe and happy holiday weekend!