Two horses at Redwings Horse Sanctuary have died following a nearby fireworks display.
On Saturday night (5 November) and the following morning (6 November), Redwings vets were called to attend two equine accidents in the same field at the charity’s Piggots farm, south of Norwich.
In both cases the horses involved were put to sleep.
Sprite (pictured, top), a 19-year-old 12.2hh Welsh pony was found on Saturday evening suffering from suspected colic.
He was lying down, covered in sweat and breathing heavily.
“Although it may have been a coincidence that loud fireworks were being let off nearby, it is possible that Sprite’s colic could have been brought on by the stress of him and his group charging around the field,” said attending Redwings vet Dawn Trayhorn.
“Similarly, the horses in the neighbouring field were also very agitated and distressed.
“Heartbreakingly, despite treatment and our efforts, and those of his field mates who were pawing at Sprite to try and encourage him to get up, he was unable and unwilling to stand so our only choice was to put him to sleep”.
Sprite’s field at the Norfolk farm was later checked by the team to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the remaining ponies.
The next morning, Percy (pictured, above) – a 25-year-old 13hh palomino – was found unable to bear weight on his off fore.
Percy was immediately brought by trailer into the stables for veterinary examination and radiographs as his upper leg was very swollen.
However, despite administering pain relief, Redwings vet Dawn could not make him comfortable.
“Again, Percy’s injury may have been caused while he was running around the field at high speed,” she said.
“He may have either had a fall or simply damaged his leg while charging about, or possibly even been kicked by another pony in their distress.
“And again, like his fieldmate, Percy’s injuries were to such an extent and he was in so much pain that there was no choice other than to put him to sleep.
“During my twelve years at Redwings, I have never had to put two ponies to sleep in one evening in the same field as a result of an emergency situation.
“This has been a devastating loss to the team and to the sanctuary”.
Redwings’ chief executive Lynn Cutress said: “We are all so upset by what has happened to Sprite and Percy.
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“Both ponies were in their latter stages of life and normally very sedate, as well as used to living out happily all year round, so this behaviour is highly unusual and typical of stress.
“Although we can never know for sure, it is likely the incidents were as a result of nearby fireworks displays.
“Sprite and Percy were much-loved, long-term residents of Redwings and both had come to us as welfare rescue cases – Sprite when found straying on to a road and no owner in sight, and Percy as part of an RSPCA case when found in poor condition – so losing them has been truly devastating.
“It seems to me that pyrotechnics have become stronger and louder in recent years so that means even so-called ‘private displays’ can still be very big and visible.
“It is extremely important that anyone planning a display, no matter the scale, who live near livery yards or land where horses are kept makes the effort to respect our animal friends and be aware of the devastating results of these types of celebrations”.
Redwings Horse Sanctuary has produced a fireworks checklist for owners who are concerned about their horses: www.redwings.org.uk/horses-and-fireworks