Prepping Your Horse For the Fourth
The summer is now in full swing, but it’s still pretty early on in the season, which means that 4th of July, the top party of the summer, has yet to arrive. But it’s not even a month away (it’s hard to believe; it feels like only yesterday that I still had to wear a coat!). It’s a holiday of cookouts, getting together with friends and family to catch up over a beer outside, and of course watch the fireworks. Yet dealing with fireworks is a difficult issue for anybody who owns animals. The stereotype is that dogs freak out during firework displays, but horses often do as well. I recently read an article that talks about what you can do to ensure that your horse stays safe and comfortable during the fireworks that inevitably accompany the 4th of July. Here’s what they had to say:
If your horse tends to get scared by fireworks, that’s totally fine. The author of the article suggested one idea: talking to your vet about the sedative/anxiety reliever acepromazine (also known as “ace”). This can be administered orally or by injection, but has only mild sedative effects, and needs 20-30 minutes before it starts working its magic. If you wait until your horse has already started panicking, then it’s not going to be much help.
If you’d prefer to stay away from drugs, there are still ways to calm your horse. Herbal supplements with valerian and/or magnesium can calm a horse, but if you’re going to go that route then it’s best to start up a few days in advance so that levels can build up. If you’re actively competing that summer, however, these supplements sometimes include prohibited substances in show horses. You can also stall your horse inside the barn to reduce the impact of noise, but if your horse isn’t used to being stalled then it’s a bad idea to stall your horse for one night only and hope that they stay calm. If you think it’s necessary, much like with the herbal supplements, get your horse used to being inside at least a few days in advance so that they’re used to the routine. You can also play calming classical music in the barn at a moderate volume, which can help drown out the booms of fireworks.
The most important thing with these methods is to try them out before the 4th of July. Otherwise, you risk finding out at the last minute that they don’t work, and you’re right back where you started.