Helping Your Horse Survive Firework Displays

Fireworks produce a sound output that is in the 150 to 175 decibel range. Each year, many people experience some damage to their hearing as a result of fireworks.

Flash bombs produce light of 7 megacandela (Mcd) and an intensely loud “bang” of greater than 170 decibels (dB). The M84 is the currently-issued stun grenade (“flashbang”) of the United States Armed Forces and SWAT teams throughout the United States. Upon detonation, it emits an intensely loud “bang” of 170–180 decibels and a blinding flash of more than one million candela within five feet of initiation, sufficient to cause immediate flash blindness, deafness, tinnitus, and inner ear disturbance

Exposed personnel experience disorientation, confusion and loss of coordination and balance. While these effects are all intended to be temporary, there is risk of permanent injury.

Here are a few hints that might help your horse get through a fireworks display.

First, invest in a few sets of equine ear-plugs or noise reducing ear-bonnets. and persuade your horse(s) to let you put them in/on their ears. Professional competitors protect their horse’s very sensitive ears this way because loud noises can disrupt their performance so thoroughly.

Second, put your horse in an area that you can keep well lit up, whether that is a barn, indoor arena or an outdoor arena. It takes about 45 minutes for a horse’s vision to adapt to changes in light. Sudden changes leave them blind. If your horse’s eyes are adjusted to bright light, they may not react so drastically to bursts of lights in the dark night sky.

Third, make sure your horse has plenty of roughage to keep them occupied. I thoroughly mix a few handfuls of chopped carrots and/or apples into plenty of grass hay. Most of my horses will stay occupied sorting the tidbits from the stems for a couple of hours.

Fourth, the sounds and light from playing music or videos near your horse’s pen may help distract them from sudden loud noises and lights.

Fifth, some horses respond well to herbal remedies and/or tranquilizers. Check with your vet and talk with an herbalist with equine experience before you give your horse anything!

Valerian root and other calming herbs can be helpful. CBD can also be useful in some cases.

Detomidine, an alpha-2 adrenoceptor agonist drug, that has been shown to be 25% better than a placebo at reducing anxiety related behavior in horses exposed to fireworks might help your horse.

Not least, inform your community about the damage fireworks cause:

Here is a study looking at the long lasting toxic fallout from firecrackers.

Here is an article detailing the damage fireworks inflict on livestock, and wildlife as well as pets.

Remind your community that if the National Football League is using drones instead of fireworks to put on genuinely brilliant light shows, so can they.

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