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Revellers urged to ditch New Year’s Eve fireworks as survey reveals extent of equine suffering

Blue Cross is urging people to ditch fireworks this New Year’s Eve, as the extent of equine suffering is revealed.

The animal charity surveyed horse owners early this month, and found great concern about the impact fireworks have, and the difficulty in predicting when they may be let off as owners try to plan ahead.

They found 73% of respondents prepared their horses for fireworks, with 51% making plans with their yards. Action taken included bringing horses in early, playing music and trying to distract horses with food, while some used prescribed medication or herbal remedies.

But 35% of respondents reported accidents as a direct result of fireworks, which included a pony who broke her neck and a horse who sustained a serious leg injury. Both had to be put down, and another pony died of a heart attack.

Almost 70% of owners said they were extremely worried about the horses’ welfare. It was reported in the survey that 71% of horses had shown fear of fireworks in the past, and 49% had become difficult to handle as a result.

A Blue Cross spokesman said: “As a difficult year for everyone comes to a close, it is understandable the British public will be wanting to celebrate new hope for 2021 this winter and, for some, that might include letting off fireworks in their garden, or private fields.

“But we are asking people to think about horses and pets this New Year’s Eve and resist the temptation to use loud fireworks, which we know terrify many of the animals we share our lives with.”

More than 70% of respondents to the survey believe fireworks should be banned in the UK, apart from at organised events, while 43% of people had noticed an increase in garden fireworks this year.

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Blue Cross education officer Gemma Taylor, said: “These results have laid bare the extent of suffering so many of the nation’s horses go through for days and weeks at a time every single year.

“That’s why we are pleading with people to think about their own actions this New Year’s Eve and consider ditching setting off loud fireworks, which leave many horses literally shaking in fear, for other celebrations.

“We know at Blue Cross just how upsetting this time of year can be for animals – especially now we are seeing more and more people doing their own fireworks in their back gardens and private fields. Let’s all do our bit to help make this fear a thing of the past.”

The charity is asking the public to spread the word and display posters, which can be downloaded from the Blue Cross website, in their windows or local community boards, encouraging people not to use fireworks this winter.

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