New Years Eve is fast approaching and for many horses it is a stressful time of year, with the fireworks. Horses are naturally prey animals and their natural response when scared by loud noises and flashes is flight, as they perceive danger. This panic and flight response is stressful and can risk injuries to both the horse and their handler.
Tips for preparing for New Years Eve:
- Stable your horse overnight, with their companions in eyesight. Alternatively, some may be happier staying in the field with companions, but make sure there is no likelihood of firework debris landing in their field. The decision of whether to stable or leave out is a personal decision and will depend on your horse and their environment.
- Ensure you perform extra checks during this time to ensure they are safe and calm.
- Keep them occupied with plenty of forage (e.g. hay) also licks and treats or safe toys can be a great distraction. It is important to be careful with their diet if they are overweight and prone to laminitis though.
- Leave a radio on to muffle the loud bangs. For some horses ear plugs (like some use in competition) may be an option.
- Leaving lights on can make the flashes less obvious.
- Ensure their stable is free from hazards and deeply bedded to reduce the risk of injury.
- Remember horses love routine, so any changes such as stabling, or shutting the windows, or radio, should be introduced gradually well in advance of Fireworks night so they have a chance to get used to it.
- If you have a horse that has reacted particularly badly to fireworks previously, speak to your Vet.
- Consider a calmer such as So Kalm or Super So Kalm. These are a natural nutritional supplement, which are designed to support the horse in stressful situations and maintain a calm outlook.
- Find out when local displays are happening so you can be prepared, local press and social media are a good place to start. Also speak to your neighbours to ensure they are aware that there are horses nearby and give you the opportunity to put preparations in place.
- Make sure your stable and yard is safe and your perimeter secure, so if your horse does get spooked and escape they do not come to harm.
- Fireworks night is a good time to review your fire procedures and make sure your fire safety protocols are in place and everyone knows what to do in the event of an emergency.
- Check you have adequate third party public liability insurance, just in case.
- Stay calm, as horses will pick up if you are anxious and importantly stay safe.
More on calmers:
Firstly calmers are not sedatives. Calmers are a natural nutritional supplement designed to provide nutritional support to manage stress responses and help maintain a healthy nervous system.
Equine America’s Super So Kalm and So Kalm offer a calming range as solution, paste or powder. Super So Kalm Powder and So Kalm Solution, are designed to be fed daily, and we would recommend starting them a minimum of 7 days before a planned stressful event such as Fireworks night. These are ideal for the fireworks season, as despite our best efforts we don’t always know when displays may happen. If there is a known local display, an extra ‘top up’ can be given 1.5- 2 hours before the event.
Super So Kalm paste and So Kalm paste are designed to be syringed directly into the mouth 1.5- 2 hours before the fireworks start.
The key ingredients in Super So Kalm and So Kalm are magnesium, calcium, vitamin B1 and L-tryptophan. Super So Kalm paste and So Kalm paste also contains the natural plant chamomile, which is known for its soothing and calming properties. So Kalm solution has the addition of chastetree extract, which supports mood and temperament. More information on the ingredients and levels found in these products can be found on our website Horse Calming & Behaviour Supplements – Equine America (equine-america.co.uk).
Magnesium and calcium are vital minerals and play an important role in nerve function and muscle contraction, as well as other roles around the body. A lack of magnesium in the diet can result in neuro-muscular excitability and increase nervous behaviour.
Vitamin B1 is important to help maintain nerve impulse transmission and cellular energy production. L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid in the horse’s diet, required for the production of the important hormone serotonin, which is associated with mood and pleasure. L-tryptophan is included in our calmers at a safe level to support the daily requirement, particularly in those sharp or anxious horses that are likely to be receiving minimal concentrates, and consequently may be receiving sub-optimal levels of this key amino acid.
So Kalm solution is not suitable for pregnant mares due to the inclusion of chastetree extract. Super So Kalm (paste and powder) and So Kalm paste are safe for use in pregnant mares.
All our supplements are BETA NOPS accredited and suitable for those competing, including FEI and the Rules of Racing.
If you have any specific questions about any of our products please contact our helpful technical team.