I am one of those early to bed, early to rise kind of people. Saturday night I was also sick. I was awakened from sleep with the unmistakable sound of fireworks exploding over my head. I raced to get dressed and headed to the barn. My neighbors were in their lawn chairs with the grandkids on their driveway not 50 yards from my barn full of horses starting their full-on Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza. I knew they would do this but expected it on the Fourth, not on this Saturday night.
We have been letting the horses out at night to beat the heat, but with rain percentages above 60%, thankfully, they were all in their stalls except Kid. I let Kid wander in and out during the night as he is old and gets stiff if stalled up. While trying to quiet the other horses, I went to Kid’s stall but it was empty. There was no sign of him in the dark pasture beyond the barn.
The fireworks just kept coming. Obviously, no expense had been spared as dramatic, multiple explosions just kept raining down on my barn. With the slight wind, they were being pushed further towards the barn than normal, but any way was too close.
In the past years, I have anticipated this. I have gotten the horses in their stalls. I have run fans (although if you think a fan is going to distract a horse from a giant overhead explosion, you are wrong). I have just tried to stand by and talk to them. At least I can be there if someone gets hurt and just try to soothe them the best I can.
This time with no warning, I was frantically searching for Kid when he can roaring up from the pasture, white-eyed and sweat drenched. I tried to catch him but could not. I was trying to calm him but each new blast sent him further from my reach. Feather and Leo, young and high-strung, respectively, were crashing around in their stalls. I was frightened they would be hurt and I could do nothing about it.
I understand that my neighbors can send off fireworks. It is one of the things about America. They do not have horses or any other animals. They do not care. They own at least 30 acres of land but are more comfortable in their driveway situated next to my barn. My helplessness at this realty was the worst.
I caught Kid on his next lap through the pasture and got him to his stall. Feather was in a heavy sweat and could not be calmed. To a horse, not much is worse than fire (think Black Beauty) and booming noises from above (think instinctive response to run from something preying from above).
I saw the family leave yesterday and hope the fireworks are done for this year. I will try to go talk with them and explain I would at least like to know when they are going to send off fireworks so that the horses can be in their stalls. If not for the weather, all the horses would have been out and I seriously doubt we would have gotten through the multiple stampedes caused by the fireworks unhurt.
I would tell you the following if you have horses and expect fireworks:
Put them in their stalls. They are way less likely to get hurt in a confined space.
Stay with them so if they do get hurt you are prepared to give medical attention or take them for medical attention.
Turn on fans, radios or other “white noise” but if the fireworks are on top of the horses, like mine, it will not matter. This might help soothe distant fireworks.
Have your trailer hooked up and ready to go. One year in Houston, a horse panicked in his stall and tore his chest open a full 10 inches. Only quick, emergency care saved him. My trailer was sitting in the mud in the arena and I could not have gotten it out to save anyone’s life.
Use ear plugs. Sounds crazy but in Florida we used jumbo tampons, inserting them in the horse’s ear, being sure to let the string hang out. If it helps, who cares what it is.
Maybe go light on the feed Fourth of July night. Less in the belly, is less to colic.
Be prepared. Last year’s drought, kept my neighbors from their yearly celebration. I was caught off guard this year. Be careful-be safe.
I knew where this one was headed when I saw the title. I remember the apprehension and added excitement at the 4th of July Rodeos and accompanying Fireworks Displays. We always made sure everyone was aware of the upcoming fireworks display and the rodeo horses are probably a little more tolerant of the unexpected than horses that are accustomed to a more structured environment. I don’t recall any serious injury to animal or human caused by the fireworks but there were usually a few runaways and plenty of added excitement. Hope things are going well for you