There have been a lot of stories on equestrian social media recently about fireworks. There have been tragic accidents where horses have been spooked by nearby firework displays and more recently I read that there are now thousands signing a petition to make it impossible for members of the general public to be able to buy fireworks. I am really struggling with this idea. As a horse owner and lover, I know that fireworks can cause them a huge amount of stress which can in turn lead to horrible accidents. However, I also love fireworks and know that in the right circumstances everyone can be happy.
When I was at University, my livery yard was also a wedding venue. There were regularly fireworks going off nearby the horses. During the summer the majority lived out 24/7 with the fireworks field being right next to one set of summer fields.We were always given plenty of warning of fireworks displays so we could make arrangements if needed. In the two years I was there, we never had a problem with horses injuring themselves due to fireworks. So when done correctly, fireworks don’t have to be dangerous to horses.
Instead of banning fireworks or bringing in new legislation to restrict the use of fireworks, perhaps we should be working with the general public to make them aware of the risks of setting off fireworks near livestock and highlight the current penalties you can receive for causing unnecessary suffering to animals with fireworks under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Those convicted face a fine of up to £20,000 or up to 51 weeks in prison.
The general public don’t want to be putting animals at risk and they certainly don’t want to be getting into trouble for it. In most cases they just simply haven’t considered the impact this may have on near by horses. So instead of trying to ruin everybody’s fun, why don’t you instead try to educate them!
There are so many easy ways to reach people these days and chances are, if you have horses, you are in a fairly small, rural area. My village has a Facebook group run by the village council where all sorts of updates and events are shared. Ask to have them write a post about how fireworks can affect horses and livestock. You could also ask anyone local to your stables to let you know if they are going to be having fireworks or ask if they can not set any fireworks off until a certain time so you can make arrangements. As well as Facebook groups you could leave posters in local pubs and shops and even talk to your neighbours directly.