Horse charity reveals financial cost of protecting residents from effects of fireworks

Extra staffing and forage to help protect horses from the adverse effects of fireworks cost Redwings over £300 a night at their south Norfolk centres* last year.

The biggest horse welfare charity in the UK brought staff in for over 50 additional hours during four nights in October and November, to counter any incidents caused by firework displays happening nearby. The total cost of the measures was almost £1500**.

Redwings is releasing the figures as part of the latest episodes of their Sounds of the Sanctuary podcast this week to raise awareness of the impact of fireworks.

Tragically, three ponies have died at Redwings in recent years because of fireworks being set off near their centres***. A special podcast episode produced last year, which is still available to listen to here, told Cinders, Sprite and Percy’s stories.

Redwings supports the RSPCA’s #BangOutOfOrder campaign which is calling for Westminster to review fireworks legislation and the impact on animal welfare and is urging people to contact their local MP. Staff from the charity will be attending a Fireworks Working Group event for MPs at the House of Commons on 6th December.

Lynn Cutress, Redwings’ Chief Executive, said: “We have experienced the worst effects of fireworks here at Redwings, with three of our beloved residents dying because of large displays near our centres.

“We increase our staffing levels at sites where we don’t have live-in staff over the fireworks season so that we can make more regular checks on the horses, ponies, donkeys and mules in our care, in addition to making lots of other provisions, including putting out additional forage, but the reality is that we can’t eradicate all the negative effects of fireworks on our residents.

“As a prey species, horses are naturally fearful of loud noises. When they’re stressed and frightened they can exhibit ‘flight’ behaviours, like galloping to the point of exhaustion or trying to escape their enclosure because they feel unsafe. This can be dangerous for the horse and people who are near them, including potentially road users if horses become loose.

“The financial cost of the extra measures we take during the fireworks season is not insignificant to a charity like ours, but obviously our residents’ welfare is our top priority, and we do everything we can to keep them safe and happy.”

Currently, legislation in England and Wales allows fireworks to be set off legally on private property by any adult between 7.00am and 11.00pm every day of the year, except for Bonfire Night, when the cut off is extended until midnight, and New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year, when the cut off is extended until 1am. It is not a legal requirement to have any form of licence or training to let off consumer fireworks.

Last year (June 2022), the Scottish Parliament passed the Fireworks and Pyrotechnics Articles (Scotland) Bill which will tighten regulations in the country. Once the relevant provisions come into force, the Bill will introduce fireworks licensing and fireworks will legally only be allowed to be supplied to, and used by, members of the public on certain dates (around celebration periods). The Bill also grants local authorities the powers to set up ‘firework control zones’, though this is a lengthy, complex process requiring a public consultation and at least a 60-day notice period.

Helen Whitelegg, Redwings’ Research and Policy Officer, said: “Horses die or are injured in fireworks-related incidents every year and Redwings wholeheartedly welcomes the tighter regulations that Scotland has introduced and is calling on Westminster to follow their lead.

“Having experienced first-hand the sometimes-tragic outcomes of fireworks being set off close to horses, we know the impact they have on naturally fearful flight animals like horses, alongside broader adverse effects on other animals and people with conditions such as PTSD or autism.

“We hope that the rescued equines who we care for at Redwings Mountains in Aberdeenshire, over 70 of them, will see the benefit of this greater protection from the multiple risks that fireworks present.”

To listen to the new episodes of Sounds of the Sanctuary as well as previous episodes, please click here.

To make a donation towards Redwings’ care of the horses, ponies, donkeys and mules at their centres at this challenging time please go to

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