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Neighbors, horses and fireworks

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  • Neighbors, horses and fireworks

    In the last week my neighbors set off fireworks that went directly over my barn and pasture on three different nights. These neighbors are close in proximity. One is directly across the street about 150 yards and the other to side is a bit further, but our fenceline is very close to their property.

    My horses go nuts. Running, sweating etc. I keep them in the paddock so they can only run so much, but still the first time it had just rained and was really muddy. No one got hurt, but it was the same deal last night.

    I am highly annoyed that they light them off so close. One hit the ground last night and came very close to our fence posts.

    Any advice? I'm not really sure if I should say anything as I doubt it will change anything. These are not horse people and they have no clue. I'm also not sure what to do with my boys when this goes on. I could but them in, but I don't know if that would be worse.

  • #2

    1) What are the legalities of shooting fireworks in the jurisdiction where you live? If it's illegal, get the cops on it like white on rice. Call it in every single time.

    2) Even if it's not illegal to shoot off fireworks, the fact that the fireworks are scaring your livestock and landing on your property gives you legal leverage.

    I'd send them a nice letter, preferably composed by an attorney, explaining to them the civil liability they would incur if one of your horses gets hurt or killed in the mayhem created by their fireworks. I'd also make sure the lawyer includes the civil and criminal liability the neighbors might incur if they set any part of your property on fire.


    • #3
      Welcome to my world. I've made such a huge stink, that except for the 4th of July, most of my neighbors have stopped. We have another horse neighbor who actually cares about their horses and they had a hissy fit too. I tranq mine lightly...IM, if I get a heads up. Lasts longer.

      Where are you? Are they legal? Not that calling the police will help...it doesn't here unless we're under a red flag warning.

      My horses are actually quite used to it...it's the new ones that get riled up every year.


      • #4
        I feel your pain. We had the same thing last night, neighbors going crazy with fireworks, horses, dogs, etc....not happy.

        If someone here has an answer, let me know. Luckily for me it only happens a few times a year.
        Quality Hunter Ponies


        • #5
          If push comes to shove, shower them with pyrotechnics. Oh wait, this COTH: confrontation is never a good thing.


          • #6
            Good Luck convincing non-horsey neighbors about fireworks or backyard shooting ranges. Fireworks ARE illegal around here but the cops and deputies look the other way.

            I've had one bad suspensory injury from the panic of fireworks but there were so many neighbors setting them off it was fruitless to pursue it. And yes, they were landing in the pastures.

            If you have a barn, I'd leave all the lights on and a radio blaring and maybe even try earplugs (?)
            "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin


            • #7
              Can you try putting them in with a radio playing loudly enough to drown out some of the noise?

              That's what we do for the dogs in the house. We just play the TV to cover some of the noise of fireworks or thunder.

              I'd be pissed about the fireworks, but my guess is they don't care if they are scaring your horses, and asking them to stop is probably not going to get you anywhere.


              • #8
                I have the most inconsiderate neighbors.... They try to recreate the London bombing with fireworks every time they get the chance, plus they let their dogs on our property in the broodmare pen... It drives me bananas... I always put cotton or earplugs in their ears when I know (or suspect) the bozos are about to do something stupid.

                "Pat the horse; kick yourself" - Carl Hester


                • #9
                  Had this problem wiht my clyde filly last night- even before it got dark at 5pm some idiots started setting off firecrackers...sent her over board and she bolted through a hotwire and through the barn to the open barnyard area behind. She was contained, and did not get hurt, but she was freaked out and hard to catch for the next hour- everytime i would get close to her the damn fireworks would start again and she would panic. I finally did get her caught and in her stall, brought her llama friend in and put him in the stall next to hers, cranked the radio on and left some lights on..we went to dinner and came back about 8pm, and I went ahead and gave her some calm n cool to help take the edge off some more...at midnight there was a huge amount of fireworks, gunfire,etc... for about 15 minutes... She was nervous, but not like she would have been without the calm n cool in her system....


                  • #10
                    We had the same thing last night, and we're in a subdivision with lots less than an acre (meaning it doesn't matter if you fire them on your property—they end up on someone else's). DH finally went across the street a little after 1 a.m., after the fireworks started landing in our yard, and told the people over there that they were DONE. One dog was in the closet; the other alternated between barking furiously and coming into the bedroom to hide.

                    Crap like this makes me want to buy a private island.
                    Full-time bargain hunter.


                    • #11
                      Are your horses still freaking out after three nights of fireworks?

                      Mine freaked out the first time they ever saw them. They will still spook and run a bit the first time they see them on the particular holiday. But they've long since figured out all that noise and light is just human nonsense and not worth interrupting their grazing for long.

                      So my advice is always to just let the beasts get used to it, but apparently that won't work in your case.

                      I wonder why some horses get used to it and others do not?
                      I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show


                      • #12
                        I've lived here for nearly 5 years. We only have two acres but are at the end of the road. The two closest neighbors put on a spectacular fireworks display twice a year and also regularly shoot guns.

                        The horses are used to the gunfire and barely react. The fireworks make them nervous but not to the point of panic. Last night, for some reason, they shot them off over my house. There is an empty pasture right across the street from them so no idea why they were shooting them over my house.

                        Fortunately, once I went out the horses calmed down a good bit. I think when they realized I was outside, they stopped shooting them over my house.

                        Even if I didn't have horses, I wouldn't want someone shooting fireworks over my house. What happens if they cause a fire? Then there is the debris left in my yard for me to clean up.


                        • #13
                          Are you on good terms with the neighbors? Talk to them -- they might be willing to shoot in a difference direction if they know they are scaring the horses or at least call you so you can move/tranq the horses before they get worked up.

                          If any of them are really high anxiety, you can also move them to a friend's place that has less fireworks trouble for the most predictable nights. Without their anxiety to feed off, the less reactive horses will probably be much calmer as well.

                          And desensitize. Get your own fireworks during the year and shoot them off. You can control the pace/frequency of them, so you can shoot them off enough to help the horses learn to cope without panicking them.


                          • #14
                            Well, I have neighbors all over town who seem to want to recreate a small war- right around midnight every New Year's Eve. I'm talking about people setting off fireworks all over the place. The closest neighbor within 200 feet of my horses.

                            Last night, I felt as though we were unwilling participants in the filming of War Horse. My paddock areas are muddy as all get out after an almost solid week of rain and muggy weather, so I had the mud and the sound efects as well as the pyrotechnics.

                            My neighbors must be very optimistic about an economic upturn in 2012 judging by the amount of money they spent- bottle rockets, m-80s, firecrackers and those mortar-like sky bursts that boom and crackle and send showers of colorful sparks all over- very entertaining.

                            My horses must be used to it all, because all they did was startle at the first few "Booms" and mill around a little. Then they all huddled under one of the run-in sheds. I went out, stood with them and fed them horse cookies through the worst of it.

                            I guess I am lucky to have such non-excitable horses. But then the odd fire cracker or bottle rocket started being launched on Christmas Eve and continued until the climax last night. And of course the same thing happens every July 4th. This morning and afternoon, there are still a few random pops. I am sure there will be some more tonight, but nothing like last night. BY 5 minutes past midnight the entire town was blanketed with a cordite-scented fog.

                            The first year I moved back here, I was really ticked off and even consulted a lawyer. His advice was to try to get my horses used to it becasue if I complained to teh authorities, I was just going to "make enemies." There are not any laws against shooting fireworks here. The only time it is prohibited is if there are drought conditions like this past July. The town cops were kept busy all night trying to catch offenders because despite the real threat of starting a grass fire-- some people ignored the ban. I heard they did write bout 20 citations.

                            I am thankful I have sensible horses, if not sensible neighbors.


                            • Original Poster

                              Originally posted by HappyVagrant View Post
                              Are you on good terms with the neighbors? Talk to them -- they might be willing to shoot in a difference direction if they know they are scaring the horses or at least call you so you can move/tranq the horses before they get worked up.
                              We are not on any terms really. Very much keep to ourselves. We are surrounded by a family - Father across the street, daughter next door, brother next to that etc. We moved into what used to be the mother's house and I believe they still think they own our property.

                              What you said though was exactly what I was going to say, but I was so pissed off on Christmas eve that I was waiting until I calmed down, then it happened again last night.

                              On Christmas eve, I blanketed my boys, then the war exploded and my guys were so sweaty from running steam was coming off them. Ugh. It was so pissed at their inconsideration (horses or not) to light off fireworks so close to someone else's property.

                              I don't know the laws here, but my guess is not much will happen. One my neighbor's is a fireman who has police friends. You'd think as a fireman they'd be more considerate - and all his fireman friends were over so they decided to blare the siren too.

                              Thanks for the support though. My husband doesn't want me to say anything. I told him it is a plain and simple matter of respect, which obvioulsy they do not have.

                              To who asked if they get used to the fireworks: not so far. We have gunshots galore here and they are pretty good about that. The fireworks with the noise and light display...not so much and they feed off eachother.

                              I may try putting them in tonight (the neighbors probably have leftovers..yay!) I have an L shedrow type barn with open stalls and no electric. So can't do radio and can only close it up so much.

                              I want my own island too


                              • #16
                                As far as "getting used to" fireworks/gunshots etc. Yes some horses will. We shoot off our own (all our neighbors shoot off fireworks and/or target practice but the smallest property in my neighborhood is probably mine at 14 acres) and our horses are totally OK with it. In fact, they will come closer and "watch" the fireworks, if you can picture that.

                                However, our two GSP bred to be hunting dogs are TERRIFIED of loud noises. Still. They're 6 years old, total washouts when it comes to hunting because they can find birds but run back to the truck and hide under it if you shoot a bird. There seems to be no "getting used to" the sound. We had them since they were 10 weeks old, so I can't imagine some horrible experience ruined them, I think it's just their personality and it doesn't help that they can feed off of each other's fear.

                                Transferring that to horses, I really believe that some horses will never "get used to" loud noises. OP, I feel for you on this, since your neighbors are not horse people. But from what you have said, they have no idea that they are really causing any trouble. They are not psychic. Go talk to them (when you are calm) and explain the situation and see if there is a workable solution.


                                • #17
                                  [QUOTE=oldpony66;6054792]As far as "getting used to"

                                  However, our two GSP bred to be hunting dogs are TERRIFIED of loud noises. Still. They're 6 years old, total washouts when it comes to hunting because they can find birds but run back to the truck and hide under it if you shoot a bird. There seems to be no "getting used to" the sound. We had them since they were 10 weeks old, so I can't imagine some horrible experience ruined them, I think it's just their personality and it doesn't help that they can feed off of each other's fear.

                                  I feel your pain. My two "farm" dogs are German Shepherds that were bred to, trained to be bomb, drug or police dogs. Mama was imported-fantastic, dad-outstanding. My guys just didn't have the drive for it. It just happens, sometimes there is just one in a litter that is destined to be someone's family dog or whatever. The other 11 littermates-all in service. No telling, yours sound like nice dogs. Sometimes it is just their personality and you can't change it.

                                  Happy New Year
                                  Quality Hunter Ponies


                                  • #18
                                    You would think fthe firefighter would be more considerate... Our friend who now owns my mom's old horse has the same trouble with her firefighter neighbors too though. We have to bring him back up to our place every 4th because the first year he was there he went through the fence and almost had to be put down. I f-ing HATE fireworks. It's such a nightmare as an animal owner, and especially with horses. I would start by talking to them and asking them to do it away from your property. If that doesn't work I would call the police... And if they don't show up keep calling them over and over and over until they get annoyed enough with you to do something about it.


                                    • #19
                                      I feel your pain. When I bought my farm I had no idea that so many people liked to shoot guns and fireworks! The first few times I heard guns near by I freaked out and was so pissed!! I have since learned that it was more upsetting for me than my horses. I'd like to ad that my horses are rather high strung and most of them are young to boot. They do not even lift their heads from grazing anymore with gunshots. I have found that I can now ignore them as well. They are allowed to shoot in the places they were shooting, so getting mad and calling the cops or yelling at them would have done no good other than make my neighbors think I was an a$$.

                                      For some reason though they just don't seem to be able to get over fireworks! Yep, they are illegal here. Nope, cops don't care. I just bring them in on the nights that are likely nights for fireworks. My stalls have 30' runs on them, so they can "hide" in the stall corner or have the chance to "run" from the fireworks. It seems they feel much more relaxed being able to get out or stay in of their own choice, but the runs are small enough they can't actually run and get hurt. They will usually stand in the run and watch the show all wide eyed but quiet. I wish they would get to the point that they don't care! easier on all and you don't have to start any bad feelings between your neighbors and you. I do hate it as much as the next person, but people are going to do it and if you can work out something that keeps your horses from hurting themselves you may find it's not so bad. I toss them some hay, get a cold soda, and sit on the porch and enjoy!
                                      Check us out on Facebook at EVER AFTER FARM


                                      • #20
                                        On the 4th of July and New Year's eve I always put the horses in their stalls at O dark thirty and leave all the barn lights on with a radio. On those nights I stay home. I also have a boom-phobic dog who must come inside so she can cower behind the chair. I really, really HATE those two nights but I recognise that there isn't a darn thing I can do about it except endure. I go back out about 1:00 AM to tuck everyone in and turn off lights and radio. The dog is ruined until morning at least so she stays inside.

                                        If you have a good relationship with your neighbors you might want to just ask them to make an attempt to keep their celebrations pointed away from your property. Understand that they may not know that they are frightening your animals but that fireworks landing in your pasture or being shot over your barn can do far worse than just frighten them.
                                        "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."