Saturday, 02 July 2022

Fireworks noise made my horse shake with fright

Fireworks noise  made my horse shake with fright

A PRIZE-WINNING shire horse had to be restrained after a fireworks display left him shaking in terror.

Bruce Honey, from Dunsden, had to use two ropes to prevent Mileaway Prince Harry from bolting from his barn.

He stayed with him during a fireworks display at Abbey Rugby Club in Emmer Green on Saturday night.

Mr Honey had to call on seven helpers to calm his nine horses and 25 cattle during the Musical Fireworks Spectacular, which the club described as “bigger and better than ever”.

The event began at 6pm with the fireworks display at 8pm.

Mr Honey, who has been looking after horses for 40 years, said the fireworks were “excessively noisy” and the club was the wrong location for a display.

He said Mileaway, who was supreme champion shire horse at this year’s Henley Farm & Country Show, was “shaking in terror”.

“Having a firework display of that size in a location set between a livery yard, a rare breeds farm and more cattle and horses behind is totally inappropriate to say the least,” said Mr Honey.

“Abbey have been repeatedly asked to reduce the noise of the display. It’s unsafe to run a display of that size in that location. The environmental impact on wildlife and livestock is not acceptable.”

Mr Honey estimated that there were up to 80 horses kept in fields close to the rugby club and that neighbouring landowners would have also been affected.

He said: “We have repeatedly asked them to tone down the fireworks as it scares the animals and I had to move my animals as far away as I could.

“We had to stay with them the whole evening to make sure they were not getting hurt and we were worried about what might happen.

“I am in agony after hanging on to a shire horse. He pushed me through the doorway because he was so scared. I’ve never seen anything like that and I know this horse very well.

“I can’t see how it is acceptable to treat animals like this and it’s time something was done about it. They need to have a bit more respect and tone them down — no one should want to see animals that scared.” A spokesman from the rugby club said the fireworks display had been running for years and it warned nearby residents of the date in advance.

He added: “The club is fortunately in a fairly remote location, some distance away from any residential areas. The display itself is always fairly short and held early in the evening.”

Meanwhile, author Amanda Jennings, from Binfield Heath, has called for fireworks displays to be kept to Bonfire Night only in order to avoid unnecessary stress to animals.

On Sunday night she tweeted a picture of her two rescue dogs curled around her leg for comfort with the message: “It’s Sunday night. Bonfire Night is done. Saturday fireworks displays are finished. Put the matches down and snuggle up on the sofa. Please. For the love of God.”

Mrs Jennings told the Henley Standard that she loved fireworks and has taken her children to watch displays this year but called for a “middle ground” when it came to a whole weekend of noise and disturbance.

She said: “It’s horrible to watch my dogs being scared — they stayed by my leg until the noise had finished. Multiple displays and for a few nights in a row are wearing for dogs, horses and other animals.

“I don’t want to ruin other people’s enjoyment, especially as there has not been much cause for fireworks in the last 18 months, but I’m not convinced it is safe for animals or humans and it should be on people’s radar a lot more.”

Henley town councillor Donna Crook, who has two rescue dogs, complained on Facebook about fireworks being let off from Gillotts Corner Field, saying this was not allowed on the land, which belongs to the council.

Elsewhere, a firework display took place at the Culden Faw Estate in Hambleden on Friday, causing heavy traffic before and after the event through the Hambleden Valley and on the A4155 as far as Medmenham, the outskirts of Henley and on Remenham Hill. The event, which was organised by Xplosive Events, was advertised as “the UK’s largest low-noise display choreographed to music”.

Director Karl Mitchell-Shead said: “We did not anticipate the event’s popularity, with some 2,000 additional attendees arriving without tickets and that was combined with the Friday rush hour.

“We will be capping the capacity in future and the event will be prepaid-sale only. We have had a meeting with our traffic management company and have identified simple changes that will alleviate any disruption.

“The display featured only specialist low-noise fireworks, taking into consideration animals and noise-sensitive visitors.

“There were some normal fireworks being used in the surrounding area, but our display was designed with the Ban the Bangs campaign in mind following feedback from last year’s fireworks.”

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