Horses and Halloween

Halloween can be a stressful time for horses and horse owners alike. Between fireworks and Halloween festivities, horses can become upset but preparation can help with the challenges. Read on to learn how to help your horse this at this spooky time!

Regardless of the time of year, horses are flight animals and anything unexpected will startle them, this is most prevalent at Halloween. The response will vary greatly according to the individual horse but reactions can be extremely dramatic and potentially dangerous for the horse or anyone close by. It is well documented that horses will become desensitised to stimuli to which they are regularly exposed. Part of the problem of fireworks is that they do not usually occur frequently and they produce loud bangs, crackles, sudden strange lights and a burning smell. It is not easy for owners to reproduce this combination of things to enable complete desensitisation of the horse. So what can we do to limit the effect of the Halloween festivities on our horses?

Prior to Halloween/firework season:

Find out if there are any commercial firework displays planned near to where your horse is kept.

Contact the fireworks organisers to explain your concerns and see if there are any measures they can take – for example, moving to the far end of a site and ask about timings so you can manage your horse appropriately to keep the situation as safe and calm as possible.

Where possible, display a notice asking individuals who are planning to use fireworks in your vicinity to inform you so you can manage your horse appropriately.

It may be beneficial to try to desensitise your horse to loud bangs. There are various CDs available that can be played to your horse at low level, slowly increasing the volume as they become comfortable with the noise.

Make preparations to secure your yard in case a horse does manage to break out of a stable or field that ensures they cannot get onto a public highway which could cause serious problems.

During Halloween/firework season

If your horse is kept in a barn or enclosed stable area it might be possible to limit the effect of fireworks by keeping barn doors closed.

Playing music within the barn or stable area may dull the sound of the bangs depending on the distance. NB: This should be introduced before the event so that the music is itself not something for the horse to worry about.

Leave stable or barn lights on as this may help lessen the effect of the bright lights and flashes in the night sky.

Unfortunately nothing can be done about the burning smell that accompanies fireworks, except to hope that the prevailing wind direction takes it away from the horses.

Try as far as possible to keep your horse in its normal routine so it feels secure.

Ensure an experienced person, who will remain calm, stays with the horse until the fireworks have ended.

If you are especially concerned, try an equine calmer like Anxikalm Triple Strength Gel, which is the most powerful and concentrated L-Tryptophan syringe on the market. The unique gel formulation ensures a fast rate of absorption so the active ingredients get to work rapidly and can be used in stressful situations.

Take care when the horse is startled – an injured owner is no good to anyone!

Information courtesy of The British Horse Society