Thanksgiving Safety for Horses: Ensuring a Safe and Happy Holiday

Thanksgiving is a time for family, gratitude, and, of course, delicious feasts. But while we humans gather around the table to enjoy the holiday, it's essential to remember our equine companions and ensure their safety during this festive time. Horses are sensitive creatures, and the commotion and festivities of Thanksgiving can pose various risks. In this blog, we'll discuss tips and reminders for keeping horses safe during Thanksgiving gatherings.

A brown horse with white on its face walking on a ranch
A Time of Gratitude and Awareness

Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks for the blessings in our lives, and for many of us, horses are a significant part of what we hold dear. Keeping them safe and healthy during the holiday season is a meaningful way to express our gratitude.

Keep Horses Secure

  1. Stable Them Safely:With family and friends coming and going, horses can be easily spooked. It's a good idea to keep your horses in their stalls or paddocks, where they are less likely to be startled. Make sure the stalls are secure and free of any hazards.
  2. Proper Fencing:Check your fences for weaknesses or damage that might allow a horse to escape. It's common to have gates and fences inadvertently left open during gatherings. Ensure that your fencing is horse-proof, and double-check all gates.
  3. Supervise Turnout:If you let your horses out in a paddock or pasture, monitor them closely. Ensure that the turnout area is secure and debris-free, and be ready to bring them in if the holiday activity becomes overwhelming.
  4. Inform Guests:Let your guests know about your horses and the rules around them. Ensure that everyone understands not to approach the horses without your guidance. Some people may not be familiar with equine behavior and could unknowingly create risky situations.

Keep Horses Away from Holiday Hazards

  1. Feeding Hazards:Thanksgiving brings an abundance of delicious foods, many of which are toxic to horses. Keep your horses away from the table scraps, especially items containing chocolate, onions, garlic, grapes, or raisins. Educate your guests about these dangers as well.
  2. Trash Cans:The trash can be a treasure trove of tempting but dangerous items for horses. Dispose of food waste securely in covered bins to prevent your equine friends from rummaging through potentially harmful trash.
  3. Fire Hazards:If you have an open flame centerpiece or outdoor fire pit, keep horses away from these areas. Horses are naturally curious and could get burned or knock over objects, creating a fire hazard.  Make sure decorations such as string lights or ornaments are out of reach or secured so that horses can't reach them.
  4. Alcohol:Ensure that alcoholic drinks are kept well out of the horses' reach.
  5. Loud Noises:The loud noises of Thanksgiving festivities, such as fireworks or music, can startle horses. If your horses are not used to these sounds, consider using earplugs to help them stay calm.
A person using a stethoscope to examine a horse

Be Prepared for Emergencies

  1. Have a First-Aid Kit:Make sure you have a well-stocked equine first-aid kit on hand. You never know when a minor injury might occur, and quick access to essential supplies can make a big difference.
  2. Know the Nearest Vet:Have the contact information for your nearest equine veterinarian readily available. If an emergency arises, you'll want to be able to reach out for help immediately.
  3. Emergency Plan:Have an emergency plan in place, including a designated meeting point for all family members and guests in case of an emergency with the horses.
  4. Thanksgiving Schedule:Keep a routine as close to the horses' regular schedule as possible. Horses thrive on routine and can become stressed if their feeding and turnout times are dramatically altered.
  5. Stress Management:If your horses are easily stressed by activity, consider using calmatives recommended by your veterinarian. This can help keep them relaxed during the holiday commotion.

Educate Your Guests

Thanksgiving is often when friends and family who may not be familiar with horses visit. Educating your guests about horse safety can go a long way in preventing accidents:

  1. Rules for Approaching Horses:Instruct your guests on approaching horses safely. Explain the importance of approaching from the front, speaking calmly, and not making sudden movements.
  2. No Feeding Without Permission:Some guests may want to offer treats to the horses. Ensure they understand that horses should only be given treats approved by you to avoid digestive issues or allergic reactions.
  3. No Sudden Loud Noises:Guests should avoid making sudden loud noises or running near the horses, as this can startle them.

Post-Thanksgiving Care

Once the Thanksgiving celebrations are over, remember to check on your horses for any signs of stress or illness. If you notice anything unusual, it is best to contact your trusted veterinarian. Sometimes, the excitement and change in routine can affect them. Ensure they have access to clean water and offer a calming, reassuring presence as they adjust to their routine.

Thanksgiving is a time to cherish and celebrate what we are thankful for. For horse lovers, this undoubtedly includes our equine companions. By following these safety tips and keeping your horses' well-being in mind during the holiday, you can ensure a Thanksgiving that is safe, enjoyable, and memorable for everyone. Here at Equine Medical and Surgical Associates, we offer natural, veterinarian-developed products to keep your horse in peak health all year long. Our trusted veterinarian, Dr. Reilly, will call you back quickly and email responses right away. You need information to help your horse! Contact us today.