Horses and Fireworks
 By Saferaphus   •   6th Jul 2017   •   312 views   •   0 comments

Victoria Day and Canada Day north of the border and Independence Day in the USA means there have been lots of loud noises and bright lights exploding suddenly in the sky. Fireworks displays are often the grand finale of these types of celebrations. Theyíre exciting and fun. Some people like the noise and the brilliant arcs of light against the night sky are thrilling. But, not everyone loves the sound of explosions and colorful flashes as much as we do.

If you belong to any sort of pet rescue group or page on Facebook or follow similar feeds on Twitter, youíll no doubt notice that in the days following events that feature fireworks as part of the party, there are a lot more lost dogs and cats. This even happened to one of my neighbors when their small dog escaped from their home during fireworks that were being set off in the street.

Most of us know not to take any sort of pet to a fireworks display, but itís a little harder to avoid if the firecrackers, whether legal or illegal, start firing unannounced on someoneís front lawn. Iíve noticed that fireworks have become more available and more popular in the last few years. And, the use of them isnít confined to just to any specific day. Where I live, people set off fireworks on any random (to me) night. So you have to be wary all of the time - unless it's raining or snowing.

Small pets arenít the only ones who can get spooked by fireworks. The sudden explosions can terrify horses. Itís not surprising considering their hearing, night vision and sense of smell are more acute than ours. Every year, dozens of horses are badly spooked and escape or are injured because of fireworks. In Kentucky, horse owners want stricter regulations surrounding the use of fireworks. There, the only regulation is that that they must be 200 feet from any building. While this may be sufficient for fire control, it doesnít address much else. Horse owners there claim that because of fireworks, horses have run through fences, gone over stall walls and injured themselves, sometimes fatally, to try to escape the noise and light.

Another Kentucky horse owner claims that her horses broke its hip by slipping on wet grass after being spooked by fireworks. In New Mexico, a horse escaped, likely because it panicked at the noise of nearby fireworks. Loose horses aren't just a danger to themselves. We all know the hazards of horses running on roadways, or through crowds.

Another horse in California was badly injured after running with its herd mates who had all spooked at nearby fireworks. There are news stories too, about cattle being spooked by fireworks. Fireworks disrupt wildlife and can be a fire hazard to crops. And some people, such as veterans with PTSD, may find fireworks very distressing. So, how do we enjoy fireworks, without having these problems.

I donít think very many people would argue for a complete ban on fireworks. But maybe there is a need for more regulation surrounding their purchase and use. Where I live, you must be over 18 years of age to purchase them, and there are rules regarding when they may be set off without a permit. Flying lanterns that have wire frames are prohibited because they pose a fire hazard, end up tangled in farm machinery or are a hazard to wildlife or animals at pasture. But, judging from the number of times I hear fireworks, most of these regulations are ignored or loosely enforced.

When it comes to our horses, it is possible to desensitize a horse to the sound and sight of fireworks. But for some stable owners, this would mean working with each and every horse that comes through their stables, including young foals. While it might be a good idea, in practice, it could be almost impossible. Desensitizing cattle, birds, and wildlife would be pretty tricky too.

Maybe the answer is a solution increasingly used in Europe. Some fireworks companies sell silent or low noise fireworks. This isnít a new invention and you may already have seen some during a display. There are downsides to these displays, as they tend to be smaller, and not as suitable for grand events like 4th of July celebrations in large towns. But, maybe silent fireworks are the only ones that should be sold for home use which tend to be smaller anyway. That way, our horses, dogs and other critters wonít be quite as likely to be frightened. Below is an example of what silent fireworks look and sound like. I think they are still pretty noisy. What do you think?

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