The 4th of July is one of several holidays we celebrate with loud and bright fireworks and although we love the “bombs bursting in air,” our equine friends are not too keen on the loud blasts echoing through the night.
The day we celebrate the birth of our nation is made up of parades, festivities and fireworks, all of which can lead to sensory overload for our horses. So, what can we do to help them get through the day and night with minimal stress?
Let’s start with our parade horses. Usually these horses are bomb proof because they are used to loud noises, crowds, tight spaces, unusual sounds, motor traffic, sudden movements and pavement beneath their hooves, but you can help your equine friend get through the stress of the day by keeping them hydrated and going at an easy pace. When they are at rest, give them hay to chew on to occupy their time and help them feel like it’s just another ordinary day. If they have a favorite companion, make sure they are there at the trailer or holding pen during the down times. Move as you usually would, not in a hurry and without communicating stress or anxiety to your horse. Protect your horse’s legs with the proper wraps and boots if necessary. Make your holding area as much like home as you can. Be ready with extra electrolytes to add to his water and give your horse an extra treat for getting through such a busy day.
For those of us with horses in fields that are in close proximity to fireworks, you can take some measures to make sure you keep your horses from freaking out when the noise begins. You can keep your horses in the barn when night falls and diminish the sound of the fireworks with white noise…a radio playing or fans set on high… to drown out the loud sounds coming from outside. Provide a run in shed in a large pasture where the horses can go and eat some hay (chewing relaxes them) and the shelter will muffle the loud noises. Check you fence lines and make sure that the electric is on if you have that type of fencing. Remove anything unusual or hazardous from the area your horse is kept in just in case he bolts or spooks unexpectedly. As a final resort, you can administer a calming agent or sedative to keep your horse calm and safe until the morning light.
By taking precautions on the days leading up to the 4th of July, you will be prepared to handle anything that may happen on that day and your horse will be safeguarded and happy, probably not even aware that anything is going on overhead or out of the usual!