Redwings Horse Sanctuary believes the loss of two of its rescued horses this weekend was a result of nearby fireworks displays.
On the evening of Saturday 5th November and morning of Sunday 6th November, Redwings vets were called to attend two incidents in the same field at their Piggots farm, south of Norwich. Very sadly, in both cases the horses involved were put to sleep.
Sprite, a 19-year old, 12.2hh Welsh pony was found on Saturday evening by a member of the charity’s Nights team suffering from suspected colic; he was lying down, covered in sweat and breathing heavily.
“Although it may have been a coincidence that loud fireworks were being let off nearby, it's possible that Sprite’s colic could have been brought on by the stress of him and his group charging around the field,” said Redwings veterinary surgeon Dawn Trayhorn, who attended the scene. “Similarly, the horses in the neighbouring field were also very agitated and distressed.
“Heartbreakingly, despite treatment and our efforts, and those of his field mates who were pawing at Sprite to try and encourage him to get up, he was unable and unwilling to stand so our only choice was to put him to sleep”.
Sprite’s field at the Norfolk farm was later checked by the team to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the remaining ponies. However, during early morning checks of the same field, Percy – a 25 year old, 13hh Palomino pony – was found non-weight-bearing lame on his right front leg and in an incredible amount of pain.
Percy was immediately brought by trailer into the stables for veterinary examination and radiographs as his front upper leg was incredibly swollen. However, despite administering pain relief, Redwings vet Dawn could not make him comfortable:
“Again, Percy’s injury may have been caused while he was running around the field at high speed. He may have either had a fall or simply damaged his leg while charging about, or possibly even been kicked by another pony in their distress. And again, like his fieldmate, Percy’s injuries were to such an extent and he was in so much pain that there was no choice other than to put him to sleep.
“During my twelve years at Redwings, I have never had to put two ponies to sleep in one evening in the same field as a result of an emergency situation. This has been a devastating loss to the team and to the Sanctuary”.
Reflecting on the two tragic incidents, Redwings’ Chief Executive Lynn Cutress said: “We are all so upset by what has happened to Sprite and Percy. Both ponies were in their latter stages of life and normally very sedate, as well as used to living out happily all year round, so this behaviour is highly unusual and typical of stress. Although we can never know for sure, it is likely the incidents were as a result of nearby fireworks displays.
“Sprite and Percy were much-loved, long-term residents of Redwings and both had come to us as welfare rescue cases – Sprite when found straying onto a road and no owner in sight, and Percy as part of an RSPCA case when found in poor condition – so losing them has been truly devastating.
“It seems to me that pyrotechnics have become stronger and louder in recent years so that means even so-called ‘private displays’ can still be very big and visible. It is extremely important that anyone planning a display, no matter the scale, who live near livery yards or land where horses are kept makes the effort to respect our animal friends and be aware of the devastating results of these types of celebrations”.
Redwings Horse Sanctuary has produced a fireworks checklist for owners who are concerned about their horse during firework season, head to www.redwings.org.uk/horses-and-fireworks