Redwings Horse Sanctuary are issuing a warning for people planning fireworks displays, following the tragic death of two horses in their care last year.
Last 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.
Nineteen-year-old, 12.2hh Welsh pony Sprite was found on the evening of Saturday 5th November by a member of the charity’s Nights team suffering from suspected colic; he was lying down, covered in sweat and breathing heavily. It's thought the colic was brought on by the stress and panic caused by the fireworks.
A second horse, 25-year old Percy, was found non-weight-bearing lame on his right front leg and in an incredible amount of pain. It's thought his injury was caused when he was running around the field at hight speed, in panic from the fireworks.
Redwings are calling for anyone planning a fireworks display to consider horses in the surrounding area.
Redwings’ Education and Campaigns Manager Andie Vilela says: “We would like to remind anyone planning a fireworks display, however small, to think about horses in their local area.
"Letting horse owners know well in advance where and when fireworks are going to be let off will enable them to plan and take action if needed. Keep fireworks as far from animals as possible and direct them away from fields and stables.
“A horse’s hearing is more sensitive than a human’s, and noises that are loud to us can be unbearable and terrifying to them. As prey animals, horses are also naturally alert and designed to take flight from threats.
"A frightened horse is a dangerous horse and there is little an owner can do to prevent an accident once the flight instinct has taken hold.
"Not only are horses at risk of injuring themselves, but they may break out of fields or stables and pose a risk to road users. Every year tragic incidents occur and the cost, both emotional and financial, can be immense.”
Redwings’ Chief Executive Lynn Cutress says: “It seems fireworks have become stronger and louder in recent years so even so-called ‘private displays’ can still be very visible and far reaching.
"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."
What owners can do
There are also steps that owners can take to protect their horses from fireworks.
First of all, check your local area for publicised events.
When events are taking place, try and find the best way to keep your animals as safe and relaxed as possible. Leaving a radio on near a stable to help mask noise can be useful and ensuring fields are hazard free will help reduce the risk to galloping horses.
In some cases, owners may even move their horse to alternative accommodation.
Redwings 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
Incidents of horses being adversely affected by fireworks can also be reported to the British Horse Society using their online form at www.bhs.org.uk/safety-and-accidents/report-an-incident