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Horse Safety on July 4th

When it comes to the Fourth of July and fireworks, horses and companion animals (dogs and cats) are a lot alike. So, how do people keep me and my friends safe on this scary night of loud noises?

galloping white horse in front of US flag and fireworks
Image by Equine Stylist

Know the horse: To keep a horse safe during July 4th, it is best to know how they react to loud noises. Some horses are used to loud noises and may not be scared. Others can get so scared that they become very sick.

Keep the horse indoors: Remember, horses are flight animals. When loud noises are expected, like fireworks, it is best to keep them in a confined sturdy area. If horses remain outside in a pasture, they may try to run. They could run through fence or wire and seriously hurt themselves. Keeping horses in a small stall inside a barn is one way to make horses feel safer, and they cannot run and hurt themselves.

Desensitization: This is a big word for “getting used to something”. You can use recordings of loud noises like thunder or fireworks and slowly raise the volume over a few days until they are no longer scare of the noise. Then you can start making loud noises yourself like banging two wooden blocks together. Slowly move closer to the horse until they are not scare of the horse. Then you can move on to louder noises like toy pop guns or small fireworks. It is smart to reward the horse during this exercise by feeding it grain or hay. Feeding the horse also gives it something to focus on that is not scary.

Muffle the noise: If there are fireworks nearby, muffling the noise can help calm the horses. In the barn, turning up the radio very loud can muffle the sound of the fireworks. There are also cotton ear plugs for horses that can muffle loud noises.

Medication: When all of these other methods do not work, sometimes it is best to get medications from the veterinarian. These medications can make the horse very sleepy and relaxed so it does not spook at the fireworks.

Microchips: Horses can have microchips just like dogs and cats! If they do get loose running from fireworks, then a microchip will make it easier to reunite the horse with the owner.

cowering dog and cat under covers with fireworks above
Image courtesy of Alternative Pet Health

All these methods can be used for dogs and cats too!

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