How to keep your horse safe during fireworks

How to keep your horse safe during fireworks

The loud explosions of fireworks can upset some horses, so what can you do to keep your horse safe and settled during fireworks season?

Fireworks season might be exciting for most people – but for horse owners it can be a cause for concern rather than a cause for celebration. Our experts share their advice on how to prevent your horse becoming overly stressed during this time of year.

Do fireworks scare horses?

The sudden burst of sound and light created by fireworks can be very frightening for horses and they may react by spooking or bolting, which can cause injuries. Research has found that 71% of horses are fearful of fireworks, with 69% of horse owners worried about their horse’s welfare during firework season.

During this time of year, there are some steps you can take to keep your horse as stress-free as possible. Even if your horse takes very little notice of fireworks, it's always worth being prepared.

Keep an eye on planned events

As fireworks season starts, keep an eye on any announcements of displays and their location. Local newspapers will often publish details about public displays, but you may also find information on social media community pages. Many fireworks displays will be on or around Bonfire Night on 5 November, but Diwali, the ‘festival of light’ can also fall in October or November and is often also celebrated with fireworks.

Find out when fireworks displays are taking place
Find out when fireworks displays are taking place


Fireworks should not be set off near livestock, including horses. If you’re worried that a planned display is too close to your yard or fields, speak to the local organiser and let them know you’re concerned.

Before fireworks displays start

Take time to prepare in the weeks leading up to fireworks season. Check your fire evacuation plan is close to hand, or discuss this with your yard owner. Do you have enough fire extinguishers and alarms in place? Do all owners know where these are kept and how to use them? Closer to the time itself, make sure your horse’s stable is ready in case you decide to bring them in.

If you’re going to leave your horse out in their field, Petplan Equine’s veterinary expert, Juliette Edmonds, recommends ‘checking your fencing is safe and robust, and that your horses have enough space so that they can move a safe distance away from the fireworks’. If a fireworks display is happening very close to your yard, Juliette says: ‘Consider moving your horses to distant premises during the period of fireworks season, if possible.’

If your horse has previously reacted badly to fireworks, consider speaking to your vet and asking for their advice. There may be medication they can prescribe to help your horse. Speaking to an equine behaviourist about how to desensitise your horse can also be beneficial.

Ask your vet for advice on helping your horse cope with fireworks
Ask your vet for advice on helping your horse cope with fireworks


Tips for keeping your horse safe during fireworks

‘Keep your horse in their usual routine as far as possible, to avoid upset and stress,’ says Juliette. ‘If you’re not sure whether you should stable your horse, that depends on their usual routine. If horses are used to living out, then stabling them can actually end up being more stressful. But if you know your horse is worried by fireworks, or is a youngster who may be less predictable, you may want to keep them stabled so there’s less chance of them becoming injured if they panic.’

You may also decide to stay at your yard until a display has finished, especially if it’s nearby. Setting up a rota with other owners is also a good idea, so your horses are monitored regularly during the celebrations.

Set up a rota to ensure that horses are monitored
Set up a rota to ensure that horses are monitored


Signs that your horse is frightened

During a fireworks display, keep an eye on your horse. Watch out for any signs of fear or stress, including:

  • Elevated heart rate
  • Elevated respiration rate
  • Muscle tremors
  • Restlessness
  • Pooing more often
  • Stall walking
  • Whinnying
  • Loss of interest in food or water

Look out for signs that your horse is distressed
Look out for signs that your horse is distressed


Are your horses scared of fireworks? If your horse does show signs of stress, or injures themselves, call your vet for advice. You can also report any incidents involving fireworks to the British Horse Society, to help inform their national statistics.