Managing fireworks anxiety

Take a few simple steps to keep your horse calm during Independence Day celebrations.
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As much fun as a Fourth of July celebration can be for people, it’s a terrifying holiday for some horses. Those who are skittish—and particularly noise averse—may become unnerved if holiday fireworks are set off nearby.

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If you’re worried about how your horse will react, take some precautions to keep everyone safe. Put him in a place that is familiar and secure—his stall or perhaps a small paddock. If you opt for a paddock or pasture, check the entire fence line and latches for areas of potential failure. A panicked horse bolting through a developed area on a dark summer night can lead to tragedy. 

If your horse is accustomed to having music playing, consider placing a radio nearby turned up to high volume. Or, if your horse is already used to wearing earplugs, this is a good time to get them out.

For extremely reactive horses, sedation may be an option. Ask your veterinarian whether sedatives might be appropriate, but keep in mind that they would have to be timed to the fireworks display and you’d need to watch your horse carefully. 

Another alternative, if your barn is close to a lot of fireworks, is to move your nervous horse to a quieter farm for the holiday.

For your bookshelf: 
• Horse Speak: An Equine-Human Translation Guide: Conversations with Horses in Their Language
From the Horse's Point of View: A Guide to Understanding Horse Behavior and Language with Tips to Help You Communicate More Effectively with Your Horse
• 
How to Think Like A Horse: The Essential Handbook for Understanding Why Horses Do What They Do

This article first appeared in EQUUS issue #442. 

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