‘A frightened horse is a dangerous horse’: fireworks reminder for public and owners

  • A reminder of the dangers fireworks pose to animals has been given by a charity which lost two horses in one night.

    As autumn arrives, Redwings Horse Sanctuary is urging the public to let horse owners know in advance if they are planning to let off fireworks.

    “During my 12 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,” said Redwings’ vet Dawn Trayhorn.

    “It was a devastating experience.”

    In November 2016, two horses living in the same field at Redwings’ Piggots Farm had to be put down following a firework display.

    Sprite, a 12.2hh Welsh pony, was found suffering from colic.


    “As a result of loud fireworks being let off nearby, it is possible that Sprite’s colic was brought on by the stress of him and his group charging around the field in terror,” said Dawn.

    “Heartbreakingly, despite treatment and our best efforts, and those of his field mates who were pawing at Sprite to encourage him to get up, he was unable to stand so our only choice was to put him to sleep”.

    During early morning checks, staff at the sanctuary found 25-year-old Percy was severely lame and could not put any weight on his off fore.


    “Percy’s injury may have been caused while he was running around the field at high speed,” said Dawn.

    “He may have either had a fall or simply damaged his leg while charging about, or possibly 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, there was no choice other than to put him to sleep.”

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    Redwings is urging organisers to make horse owners aware of displays — however small — in good time.

    “This will enable them to plan and take action if needed,” said Andie Vilela from the sanctuary.

    “Keep fireworks as far from animals as possible and direct them away from fields and stables.

    “A horse’s hearing is more sensitive than a human’s, and noises that are loud to us can be unbearable and terrifying to them.

    A frightened horse is a dangerous horse and there is little an owner can do to prevent an accident once the flight instinct has taken hold.

    “Not only are horses at risk of injuring themselves, but they may break out of fields or stables and pose a risk to road users.

    “Every year tragic incidents occur and the cost, both emotional and financial, can be immense.”

    Redwings has also compiled a list of steps owners can take to help protect their horses.

    These include:

    • Check your local area for publicised events
    • Leave a radio on near a stable to help mask noise
    • Consider whether it would be safer to temporarily move your horse to another yard if there is a planned event close by

    The charity has produced a fireworks checklist for owners who are concerned about their horses during firework season: www.redwings.org.uk/horses-and-fireworks

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