Fireworks Night

It’s that time of year folks!

If you are lucky enough to live in the middle of nowhere, such as the Welsh mountains, fireworks night will pass you by. The horses will be nonplussed by the distant pop and fizzle of rockets and Catherine wheels, perhaps occasionally seeing a smattering of sparks. But for those of us in the more populated areas of the country, fireworks are a nightmare!

The trouble is, that fireworks begun popping up, excuse the phrase, a fortnight before Guy Fawkes Night, and continue for the following week. That means that there is three weeks of triple checking our horses, hoping they don’t panic at the noises, stressed and tense horses, weight loss … The list is endless. 

So what can we do? Share this post and poster for starters to help educate the non-equestrian community.

On the yard it is a good idea to pool resources. Find out when any organised shows are on, put up posters and put leaflets through nearby house doors – perhaps with a contact number so they can let a nominated person know if they are doing fireworks in the garden.  

It’s a good idea to stable the horses, especially those who are worried by fireworks. If some can’t be stabled the. Check they are in the right field – far away from the fireworks show, with good fencing, plenty of forage, and other horses nearby. These horses will need late night checks, so perhaps a rota can be drawn up so everyone takes a turn.

If there’s a big fireworks show near the yard, then it’s wise to have people at the yard to supervise the horses. Maybe get some hot chocolate and pizza, and you can all watch the show from the comfort of the hay bales? 

Otis was terrified of the fireworks the first year he left Wales, but I think he was most concerned about was the noises when he couldn’t see the displays. Now, he’s not so worried. However, it is Matt’s first time out of the depths of Wales so from tomorrow he will be stabled at night because the surrounding villages got a bit firework-happy. Hopefully the fact the other horses are unconcerned will settle Matt.

Hopefully we can educate the non-horsey, and work together as a yard to make sure the horses get through the next couple of weeks safely. 


Everyone well be breathing a sigh of relief tonight, Guy Fawkes’ night is over for another year. So how do you approach bonfire night? Treat it like every other evening? Sedate your horse to within an inch if his life? Sit at home worrying about it all?
I guess it depends on your horse and where he lives. When I was younger fireworks didn’t even cross our minds, but then our ponies lived halfway up a mountain with no public displays within 5 miles. I never knew if the horses were bothered, but they were always safe and sound the following day.
Then I moved to a busy yard on the edge of town and fireworks became an issue. For at least a week every evening at the yard was a war zone. But it was business as usual, and lessons continued, albeit in the indoor arena or on the quietest horses.The first year was a bit of a nightmare with my 4 year old, but the aim was to desensitise him. I found he settled more when he could see the lights as opposed to his stable, where all he could hear was bangs.

Last night was our neighbour, a private school, held their firework display. In past years the bonfire has been right next to our fields, so all the horses had to come in for the duration. Last night was my first experience of firework night, so during the day we sussed out where the bonfire was, only to find it has moved closer to their buildings. So we moved the horses we didn’t need on Saturday morning to the valley, brought in those in the immediate vicinity and used paddocks a bit further away for the riding school horses we needed on the weekend. Liveries were told to look after their own horse and to do as they saw fit.

And then we all stood around the disposable bbq cooking sausages, drinking mulled fruit juice, and having a good gossip. The fireworks were spectacular and in all it was quite a fun night.

I did feel there was an over reaction though. Livery owners with stables at the far end of the complex, or fields in the valley, went into overdrive. Unless I know a horse is exceptionally scared by the noises, I feel they are happier outside where they can move around to satisfy the flight instinct. Also I think that if a horse can see the fireworks and hear the bangs, they get used to it and, however crazy they think we are, can comprehend the fireworks. If all they hear is loud noises then they don’t tend to accept it as easily.

It makes you realise what the war horses had to put up with on the battlefield though!