As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. While it’s impossible to protect your horse from every danger, there are things you can do in every situation to mitigate the necessity of an emergency vet visit. The upcoming 4th of July festivities are no exception.
Here are some quick and simple tips to help make the holiday less stressful on your horse.... and hopefully help you avoid an emergency call to Dr. Suzanne.
1. Desensitize Him Ahead of Time: Horses that are accustomed to loud bangs and flashes of light will likely do better in any situation involving loud noises.
2. Plug Her Ears: Yep, earplugs for horses are an actual thing! But if you haven’t got them on hand already and there’s no time left to buy some, use cotton balls.
3. Exercise Your Horse: Pent-up energy will only feed the stress your horse can experience. A tired horse is a happier horse on the 4th. NOTE: Check the air quality in your local area before exercising your horse. The recent Canadian wildfire smoke events are having a negative effect on the safety of exercising horses.
4. Play Music or White Noise: Classical and country music playing in a barn has been shown to have a calming effect on horses. Some owners also turn on fans to cancel out the sound of the fireworks. White noise can be very distracting for some horses.
5. Bring Them In: If possible, horses should be brought into the barn and stalled for their safety.
6. Keep Barn Lights On: By keeping the barn lights on, the flashes of light your horse experiences as the fireworks explode in the sky are minimized.
7. Let Her Eat Hay: Give your horses something to do during the festivities. Horses whose brains are idle can dream up all kinds of scary scenarios, so keep her busy eating.
8. Medication: If your horse is already a nervous Nellie, talk with your veterinarian about medications that may be appropriate to help her stay calm.
9. Identification: Braid an identification tag with your name, phone, and address, as well as your vet’s phone number, into their mane, or use water-based paint to write your name and phone number on their rump just in case your horses were to escape.