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Blue Cross calls for people to ditch fireworks this NYE as horse owners reveal extent of suffering

Blue Cross is urging people not to let off any fireworks this New Year’s Eve, as horse owners lay bare the extent of suffering loud bangs causes our equine friends.

As a difficult year for everyone come 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.

However, the animal charity asking people to think about horses and pets this New Year’s Eve and resist the temptation to use loud fireworks, which we know terrifies many of the animals we share our lives with.

Blue Cross surveyed horse owners in early December and found that there were high levels of concern in the equine community about the impact on their horses and the difficulty in predicting when the fireworks may be let off in order to try and plan ahead. 

73% did prepare their horses for fireworks, with 51% formulating a plan with the Yard. Preparation included putting them into a stable early, playing music and distracting with food. Some owners also used prescribed medication and herbal remedies.

However, a shocking 35% reported accidents as a direct result, with several detailing the result being PTS. 

The charity also polled pet owners to see the affect on our four-legged friends inside the home. The survey revealed:

  • Most (70%) of people believe fireworks should be banned in the UK, apart from at organised events
  • More than two-thirds (70%) of dog and cat owners were concerned for their pet’s welfare this firework season
  • Of those who have fearful pets, 40% visibly shake, while 36% bark or cry when they hear fireworks
  • And, of those, almost a third (29%) have had to seek specialist animal behaviourist advice
  • Most worryingly of all, 43% of people noticed an increase in garden fireworks this year
  • Almost a quarter of respondents (24%) said they would consider buying silent fireworks as an alternative

They also found that: 

  • Most (69%) of horse owners say they are extremely concerned about their animal’s welfare this winter due to fireworks, survey reveals
  • 71% of horses have shown a fear of fireworks in the past, with 49% becoming difficult to handle
  • Worryingly, 35% of horses have been involved in an accident related to fireworks, with some grave results.
  • Additional polling shows most people think letting off fireworks in gardens should be banned and limited to organised or licensed displays

Blue Cross’s 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.”

Blue Cross is also calling for the public to spread the word and display posters in their windows or local community boards, encouraging people not to use fireworks this winter. These can be found and printed off from bluecross.org.uk/nye-fireworks

Blue Cross Fireworks poster

Advice for how to help prepare your horse for fireworks season can also be found on Blue Cross’s website.

Examples of accidents reported in the survey include:

  • Ran out of the stable and hurt her hip badly. Lame for a month. Wound took four months to heal
  • Cuts from thrashing around stable and kicking herself/ banging into walls whilst spinning
  • Massively spooked causing full skin laceration to fore leg ended up at the vets for a week followed by nine weeks out of work.
  • We had a Shetland pony spooked by fireworks (which we have all year round, this year from August and still happening) The pony ran down a bank and fell in to a ditch and broke her neck. We also had one miscarry a foal.
  • My neighbour let off fireworks right next to my field and my horses bolted to try and get away and because of the time of year, fields are muddy and slippery. One horse damaged her leg and although treatment was given it was advised by vet and farrier to have her PTS. She was only 11.
  • Neighbours let off fireworks and one of mine cut his head and another banged himself, which resulted in a splint.
  • Pony died of heart attack – a healthy young pony who had passed a vetting six months prior
  • I had no idea the village I’d moved to had this year put on a private display, My horse was in the field and when I went up the following morning, I had a very lame horse with a very big fat leg. If I’d been notified I could of stayed with her, simple communication is all that is needed sometimes.


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