Warning over fireworks displays after ‘tragic’ death of rescued horses in Tasburgh

Photo: Redwings Horse Sanctuary.
Photo: Redwings Horse Sanctuary.

A Norfolk animal charity has issued a fireworks warning – nearly one year on from one of its ‘greatest’ charities when two rescued horses died in Tasburgh.

Redwings Horse Sanctuary vets were called to attend two incidents in the same field at their Piggots Farm, based in Tasburgh. Two rescued horses were put to sleep. It is thought a nearby fireworks display terrified the animals – and played a part in the horse’s deaths.

Palomino pony Percy was found non-weight-bearing lame. Photo: Redwings Horse Sanctuary.

Palomino pony Percy was found non-weight-bearing lame. Photo: Redwings Horse Sanctuary.

The charity hopes by raising public awareness of the dangers posed to horses by fireworks, “tragic accidents” can be avoided – without dampening the “spirit of the season”.

Redwings’ Chief Executive Lynn Cutress said: “It seems fireworks have become stronger and louder in recent years so even so-called ‘private displays’ can still be very visible and far reaching.

“It is extremely important that anyone planning a display, no matter the scale, who live near livery yards or land where horses are kept makes the effort to respect our animal friends and be aware of the devastating results of these types of celebrations”.

Nineteen-year-old, 12.2hh Welsh pony Sprite was found on the evening of Saturday, November 5 by a member of the charity’s Nights team, suffering from suspected colic; he was lying down, covered in sweat and breathing heavily.

It is extremely important that anyone planning a display, no matter the scale, who live near livery yards or land where horses are kept makes the effort to respect our animal friends and be aware of the devastating results of these types of celebrations

Lynn Cutress, chief executive, Redwings

“As a result of loud fireworks being let off nearby, it is possible that Sprite’s colic was brought on by the stress of him and his group charging around the field in terror,” said Redwings veterinary surgeon Dawn Trayhorn, who attended the incident.

“Heartbreakingly, despite treatment and our best efforts, and those of his field mates who were pawing at Sprite to encourage him to get up, he was unable to stand so our only choice was to put him to sleep.”

Further checks were carried out at the field throughout the night to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the remaining ponies. But during early morning checks, Percy, a 25-year-old, 13hh Palomino pony, was found non-weight-bearing lame on his right front leg, and in an “incredible” amount of pain.

Dawn added: “Percy’s injury may have been caused while he was running around the field at high speed. He may have either had a fall or simply damaged his leg while charging about, or possibly been kicked by another pony in their distress.”

The charity has produced a fireworks checklist for owners concerned about their horse during firework season, which can be found at www.redwings.org.uk/horses-and-fireworks.