Bonfire night and fireworks can be very unsettling, distressing and frightening for a horse but what can you do to help? What calmers are available for your horse to help him through the firework season?
Horses are flight animals and so any sudden and frightening noises will cause them to panic and try to get away. A bolting horse is a frightening sight; a bolting horse will have no regard for where he is running, what he is running into or who is in the way…he just wants to get away! Bolting horses can run through fencing or could even attempt to jump over stable doors, field gates and fencing with no regard for their own safety.
Even the most laid back of horses can be frightened by fireworks due to the loud bangs and crackles, the flashing lights and the smell of smoke. However, this is not always the case, some horses are not at all phased and appear to enjoy watching the display!
Here at Naylors we have put our heads together and come up with some pointers to help you get your horse through the firework season with minimal stress.
- Every horse is individual and will react differently. You know your horse so prepare him accordingly.
- Check the local papers etc to see when firework displays and events are going to take place and how close they are to you and your horse.
- Keep to your horse’s normal routine as much as possible, changing his routine all of a sudden may upset him further. If your horse is usually stabled at night then keep him in, if your horse is in the field then keep him out but only if it is safe and secure to do so.
- Check your horse’s stable or field for anything he could injure himself on if he was to get frightened.
- Try playing a radio quietly in the stable or barn to help drown out the bangs and crackles.
- Try leaving the lights on in the stable or barn to help minimise the extreme flashes caused by fireworks.
- Try putting ear plugs or cotton wool in your horse’s ears if he will accept them happily. Do not force them upon your horse if he does not like them as it may just make the situation worse.
- Ensure your horse has plenty of hay to keep him occupied throughout the night.
- If your horse is better seeing what is frightening him then perhaps move him to a place where he can see the fireworks going off? This may work for some horses but not all.
- If possible stable frightened horses next to or near calm horses.
- If your horse is in the field maintain the same herd and friend groups if possible.
- There are a lot of calming supplements that can help take the edge off and help your horse deal with the stress as calmly as possible.
Calmers For Horses
There are many calmers available to help a horse deal with times of stress. A stressful horse may benefit from a calmer all year round with a small boost when fireworks season comes around. Other horses that are only stressed around bonfire night may benefit from a fast acting calmer that can be administered when needed.
Instant calmers are ideal for horses that only get stressed in certain situations like on Bonfire night. Some horses may be laid back 99% of the time but come Bonfire night they need a little extra help maintaining a level head. Here are some instant acting calmers that may be beneficial to horses needing that extra boost:
- Equine America So-Kalm Paste – So-Kalm® Paste is is a magnesium and calcium supplement that can help calm nervous, excitable and stressed horses. Administer 10ml per day into the horse’s mouth, onto the back of the tongue, 1.5 – 2 hours prior to event.
- NAF Instant Magic – Instant Magic is a fast acting magnesium based calmer ideal for horses that need an immediate calming effect in a stressful situation. Instant Magic works in approximately 1-1.5 hours. Contains a blend of bio-available magnesium and herbs.
- Confidence EQ – Confidence EQ is a synthetic copy of the equine appeasing pheromone that can help to calm horses in a variety of stressful situations. Confidence EQ works in 30 minutes and last for approximately 2.5 hours.
Calming supplements for the long term
Some horses may benefit from a long term calming supplement that is merely topped up at stressful times. There are a variety of calming supplements available to suit a variety of horses and needs. Magnesium based calmers often contain a combination of herbs and magnesium and can help calm sharp, stressed and nervous horses encouraging them to relax and improve their concentration.
For those looking for a herbal based calmer with no magnesium Global Herbs Thoroughbred Calmer has been specially developed to contain only herbs known for their calming properties. Thoroughbred Calmer has been found to work effectively on fine boned horses but can be used on all horse types.
There are some effective hormonal supplements that may help to calm excitable and over exuberant behaviour in both mares and geldings. Hormonal imbalances can often make horses difficult to handle and prone to over excitability and stress. If your mare is ‘mareish’ or your gelding exhibits ‘riggy’ behaviour then they may be suffering from a hormonal imbalance that could be affecting their behaviour. This hormonal imbalance may exacerbate their reactions to stressful situations like fireworks so it may be worth considering a supplement to help regulate their behaviour. Global Herbs Rig Calm and NAF’s Oestress offer unique blends of herbs that may help calm your hormonal horse and allow you to keep their reactions to stressful situations under control.
If your horse gets anxious or stressed when in the stable during fireworks season it may be worth trying some of our distraction ideas. Make sure that your horse has plenty of hay or haylage to eat to keep him occupied throughout the night. Horse toys and treat toys may also help to keep your horse entertained while in the stable.
- Horslyx is a tasty lick treat packed with vitamins, minerals and nutrients that can help combat stress and boredom.
- Likit toys and treats like the Boredom Breaker and the Likit Holder make your horse work for his treat and will keep him occupied for hours.
- Uncle Jimmy’s Hangin’ Balls are natural horse treats that can be easily hung from the beams of your stable to help relieve boredom and stress.
- Vitamunch®is a long lasting healthy snack that can help occupy the horse when in the stable. Why not try the Vitamunch®Calmmunch designed to help support a relaxed outlook in stressful situations.
How does your horse cope with the fireworks. Do you have any top tips to help your horse cope?