‘We hope people will think again’: charity releases footage of distressed horses to show impact of fireworks

  • Redwings Horse Sanctuary has released video of its horses during Bonfire Night celebrations to show the distress fireworks can cause.

    The equine welfare charity shared the footage taken on 5 November, of frightened ponies galloping about, as it calls on people to contact their MPs to ask for a review of firework legislation.

    Three Redwings ponies have died in recent years as a result of fireworks’ being set off near the charity’s centres.

    Redwings CEO Lynn Cutress said: “We are grateful to our neighbours who let us know about firework displays nearby but as you can see from this footage, which clearly shows the distress caused to our horses from firework displays, it isn’t enough.

    “We have experienced the worst effects of fireworks here at Redwings, with three of our beloved residents dying in previous years because of large displays near our centres. We take all measures possible to protect our horses, ponies, donkeys and mules, including moving them to other locations, but as all horse owners know, this isn’t always an option.

    “With many fireworks displays rearranged due to wet weather we are very concerned that their awful impact on animals is going to be prolonged this year as displays continue through November and beyond, and whilst our horses are so far thankfully ok, we know that other organisations haven’t been so lucky. We hope that by releasing this video people will see how distressing fireworks are for horses, as they are for other animals, and think again about the cost of using them.”

    H&H reported that the charity had spent an extra £300 per night on extra staffing and forage to try to protect horses from the effects of fireworks.

    “We increase our staffing levels at sites where we don’t have live-in staff over the fireworks season so that we can make more regular checks on our residents, in addition to making lots of other provisions, including putting out additional forage,” Ms Cutress said.

    “As a prey species, horses are naturally fearful of loud noises. When they’re stressed and frightened, they can exhibit ‘flight’ behaviours, like galloping to the point of exhaustion or trying to escape their enclosure because they feel unsafe. This can be dangerous for the horse and any people who are near them, including potentially road users if horses become loose.

    “The financial cost of the extra measures we take during the fireworks season is not insignificant to a charity like ours, but obviously our residents’ welfare is our top priority.”

    Redwings supports the RSPCA’s #BangOutOfOrder campaign and charity staff will be attending a fireworks working group event for MPs at the House of Commons on 6 December.

    The charity’s research and policy officer Helen Whitelegg said: “Currently, legislation in England and Wales allows fireworks to be set off legally on private property by any adult between 7am and 11pm every day of the year, except Bonfire Night, when the cut-off is extended until midnight, and New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year, when the cut-off is extended until 1am. It is not a legal requirement to have any form of licence or training to let off consumer fireworks.

    Last year the Scottish Parliament passed the Fireworks and Pyrotechnics Articles (Scotland) Bill which will tighten regulations in the country. The Bill introduces fireworks licensing; they will only be allowed to be supplied to, and used by, members of the public on certain dates around celebration periods. The bill also grants local authorities the powers to set up ‘firework control zones’, though this is a lengthy, complex process requiring a public consultation and at least a 60-day notice period.

    “Horses die or are injured in fireworks-related incidents every year and Redwings wholeheartedly welcomes the tighter regulations that Scotland has introduced and is calling on Westminster to follow their lead.”

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