There’s just no predicting…

Fireworks can be terrifying to horses. Some horses will just stand and watch them in awe. Some horses will run through fences and walls in panic at the sight and sound if them!

As we slip into July tonight, I’ve started popping bubble wrap around the stable yard to accustom my horses to the sound and I even do fast, “pop pop pop pop pop”s like a string of fire crackers. This actually helps them feel less reactive when, in four days, the real stuff starts going off.

I wish it wouldn’t happen. Living in the dry, high desert, fireworks are a thing of danger or delight, depending upon your circumstances and your species. One July many years ago, my landlady’s Irish Wolfhound took off in total panic from her yard and disappeared, all from the commotion and violence of neighborhood explosions. The next morning, our 80+ year old friend tracked the dog and found her, alive, hiding in an old silver mine in the mountain above us.

At that same time, my orphaned Arabian colt would stand in his pen watching, delighted as the rockets flew up and spewed colors against the black night sky. There’s just no predicting…

So, I’ve had neighbor kids shoot bottle rockets directly at my horses when I had Briarwood Dressage, my school in the valley. As the sheriff arrived that night, a rocket hit him in the head and bounced over to my shoulder before exploding. Needless to say, the parents of those children were in trouble. I’ve had neighbors, when I worked in EAP, come over and apologize when they realized the horses were scared and they took their fireworks further down the road. There’s just no predicting…

My colt who loved fireworks also loved to watch the spark spewing, crackling, roof high flames of the stone heating fire when we did sweat lodge. Yet, his cousin would leap in the air, spin, bolt and ask questions later when a group of autumn leaves would shuttle down from a mulberry tree. There’s just no predicting…

So, as I start my bubble wrap popping “bomb-proofing”, I recognize the familiar, also very “firecracker” sound, of our bird-of-paradise bushes’ seed pods exploding in the heat. “Hmmm”, I think, “Nature is helping me here”. These seed pods burst open in the day’s heat, totally at random, with a startling first POP followed by the sound of the pod striking a wall, even landing on a roof. It is fortuitous! The horses (and I!) have no warning and just have to get accustomed to the startling-ness of the pods. Nature knows. She is preparing us.

And, with assured regularity, come the 4th, we will have storms roll in with great sopping, black clouds ready to dump waves of water on our parched land. The fear of fires is allayed. There may be hail (ask me about the Electric Light Parade that I drove my pony and cart in last year – never to do again!); there may be Nature’s display of ground searing lightning bolts and spider vein flashes (again, ask me sometime about that parade!).

And, with no way to predict the ratio of fireworks to rain drops to neighborhood parties, the best I can do is turn on all my plastic bulbed Christmas lights that surround the stable yard and play some Jethro Tull to sooth our souls on the 4th. A little magnesium and Tryptophan in evening bran mashes; some lavender and frankincense oils diffused about the place and we will be good to go. Each year here at Dharmahorse, we’ve had pleasant, safe 4th of July’s. I have no reason to think it will be any different this year. I take a deep breath tonight and am simply grateful that I’m not driving my pony and cart in the Electric Light Parade!!

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