Recently there has been a lot of talk about 'Silent' Fireworks over in Europe. I decided to do some research to see if these might also benefit horse and pet owners. As horse owners we all know how volatile horses can be over the silliest things. Like people some horses hardly notices some things, while others are set off by the smallest rustle of leaves in the fall or maybe the neighbors collection of 4 mini dachshunds as they come running down the hill in greeting ( We won't name any names here though *cough, cough, OLIVER, cough* my 1200# 10 yo TB spooks at the barking puppies, but not at the helicopter landing on the other side of his fence..hangs head in shame). I suspect that there are some horses who simply don't care. For example those who compete in Cowboy Mounted Shooting. I bet those horses are so used to loud noise and bright flashes nothing bothers them. In the same respect police horses, city carriage horses and parade horses by and large are probably pretty immune to such activity.
However, the dressage, hunter / jumper & eventing communities of horses are generally another story. Our horses are typically not exposed to loud unexpected noises or flashing lights that whistle. I like to think my horses are pretty sane. They've gotten to know the local life flight ambulance helicopter intimately on 3 occasions. Both during the day and after dark - (thankfully not for my family) when it landed 100 yards from their pasture. I'm sure calling the land owner with the horses in the adjacent pasture is not a priority during a medical emergency requiring a helicopter, and I totally respect that. Living in a rural area has it's benefits - we lack all the overhead utility wires found all over the city, and we have nice level places to put a helicopter down. My brother happens to work on one of those choppers, so I totally get it. My gang is also regularly exposed to dirt bikes, atv's, gun fire from hunting / target practice as well as a drag racing on occasion. Additionally my farm is located in a firework legal state. So these fun things are available year round and are set off with frequent regularity during the warm weather months, not just on holidays. Despite all of the things my gang is exposed to 4th of July is a special night of hell for them. Between all the noise, whistles, booms, flashing lights, and sparkling skies they have to contend with flaming litter and debris falling from the sky.
I feel like silent fireworks are an ingenious concept and there are several companies looking to get in on the ground floor of this part of the fireworks industry. Which is great, so many of our veterans suffer from PTSD and lets not forget the sensory sensitive kids out there, plus all the terrified companion animals that hide in terror or bolt in fear on those nights where the sky lights up in celebration. It seems unreal though, to expect a firework display to be 'silent'.
After watching several video clips from a few different companies, it is a bit unrealistic. Although they are not as loud as traditional fireworks. You don't feel as though you are holding a rocket launcher filled with mortar shells. However they are far from silent. They have all the bright lights, hissing, whistling and beautiful colors, with about a third of the noise. Which I think may be a great compromise for those who suffer form PTSD and the sensory sensitive. However when it comes to companion animals and horses, I am doubtful these will make life less terrorizing on the 4th of July. These are a great idea, and I think as technology evolves they will become even less noisy. I am excited for what the future holds in this new market of silent fireworks. However for the time being, I will still be putting my crew in their comfy stalls tonight and on future firework occasions.
Take a look at this video clip from one of the companies I researched. It starts off a little lame, but be patient, it picks up and they do show fireworks shooting off into the night sky.