When it comes to the Autumn season, we all know that Halloween and Bonfire night are right around the corner. Whilst people enjoy the flare of fireworks, toffee apples and smoky bonfires, we know for horses and their owners what a stress-inducing time it can be!
Often, we see and hear the colourful displays in the weeks running up to these autumnal events and we understand that it can be a worrying few weeks for both horse and domestic pet owners. Even the calmest of horses can become frightened by the loud noises, bright lights, and unfamiliar smells.
Planning ahead is a great way of getting through the firework season. Here at Wormers-Direct we have come up with some tips and products to provide help in a time that can be unsettling for your horse:
- Be in the Know!
Asking neighbours, checking with councils, and doing local research through social media sites are all good places to start for information on what times to be aware of the bonfires and fireworks.
Knowing beforehand when to expect the fireworks and public excitement is a great way to feel prepared and ready. You may be able to let them know that horses are nearby. This gives you a chance to ask neighbours to consider focusing firework displays in a direction away from your horses.
- Panic Proof and Prep!
Decide on whether you want to stable them or keep them in the field. This is a completely personal and horse focused decision, depending on their most familiar environment. You will need to check thoroughly around the stables and fields for anything posing a danger. Such objects may include protruding nails, trip hazards, string, loose bars, and anything that may cause an injury to your horse or others – panic proof their surroundings!
- Routine for reassurance
We all love our daily routines! Reducing the amount of stress for your horse is the key to them feeling settled. There is no correct way to do this as it is dependant on each horses everyday norm but sticking to your usual routine will help them with feeling safe and secure. A quick and sudden change may only cause unwanted anxiety. Therefore, introducing changes slowly into your horses routine beforehand will be beneficial for the both of you. For example; if preferring to bring your horse into a stable for bonfire night, make the changes a week or two prior for it to feel familiar to them.
- Help and Advice from other owners
Some horse owners turn on the radio in the run up to bonfire night, to disguise and familiarise their horse with noise traffic. Alternatively, you may want to use ear plugs which can muffle out the unsettling noise. Horse owners who are stabling may choose to leave the lights on inside. This can prevent them from feeling startled by the bright flashing of fireworks.
If you are on a Livery Yard, it can help to get together and have other horse owners for reassurance and support. Familiar faces will be calming, and with our horses picking up on our emotions and body language, they will in turn feel at ease.
You may even want to create a rota and take turns because as the saying goes, strength in numbers!
Again, all these tips are dependent on your horse as an individual.
- Calming and Relaxation
Providing plenty of feed and forage, playing with toys and giving yummy treats can be welcome distractions. Fast acting oral calmers can be an almost instant way to relieve your horses unwanted woes. Here are our top favourites available from us at Wormers Direct:
ProKalm Syringe (60g) – £9.99
ProKalm by Science Supplements is a stress management aid and is specifically designed to target anxiety in horses and ponies. The benefit of ProKalm is that not only can it be incorporated into your horses daily feed but given during isolated situations such as bonfire night it acts as a gentle way of reducing anxiety. Using a ProKalm Syringe can ease the stress and nervousness of your horse for up to 8 hours. It is a great way of reducing worry and giving both you and your horse control and relaxation.
Supercalm Instant Two-Use Syringe (30ml) - £8.70
This calming herbal mix from Global Herbs is perfect for reducing nervousness and excitability. Its key ingredients are Holy Basil, Winter Cherry and Amla, making it ideal for use before stressful events such as bonfire night and Halloween. Supercalm Instant two-use syringe is just that! For a 500kg horse, administering 15ml just 12 hours before the event and then another 15ml dose 1 hour before, will ensure some peace of mind for you. This can be used alongside the powder supplement and is molasses free. Supercalm is Super!
Confidence EQ Gel - £6.50 per sachet
Confidence EQ is a synthetic version of equine appeasing pheromone (EAP) which is released when a mare is nursing their foal. Confidence EQ is clinically proven to reduce signs of anxiety and stress in Mares. The behavioural benefits are your mare feeling safe and secure with it also providing reassurance and emotional stability. A recipe for less worry over the firework season for both you and your Mare.
- 6.Seeing the Signs
A calm horse is still susceptible to panic especially when the bang or crackle of a firework is out of your control. Some signs to note when your horse may be feeling distressed and anxious are:
Yawning, snorting, eye rolling, cribbing, flaring their nostrils, sweating, shaking, generally restless, pawing at the ground, weaving, and walking the perimeter of their fence or box are telling signs of stress. A decrease in appetite and disinterest, even diarrhoea can be a sign of anxiety. Spooking, bucking, rearing, and bolting will all be signs that your horse is in distress.
Please remember, for the safety of you and your horse, it is not recommended to ride when these events are taking place.
We hope these tips and products can help ease any worries you may have about the upcoming Bonfire Night and Halloween.