We’ve all seen the negative impact that fireworks have on our animals. Dogs cower and shake, cats hide, horses panic and bolt. And in May 2018, it is thought that sparks from an amateur fireworks demo caused the fatal fire at Sunnybrook Stables in Toronto, killing all 16 horses.

This New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2021, another Canadian horse owner was forced to mourn the loss of a beloved animal. In the town of Canning, Nova Scotia, Dawn Golding heard the explosions begin around 6:30 pm as her neighbours and their guests were setting off fireworks. Golding and her family own and run a stable housing their own horses as well as boarders’ animals. When the fireworks went off, the horses spooked and crashed through the paddock fencing, fleeing into an adjacent field and onto other farms.

(Dawn Golding Facebook photo)

Golding told CBC News  that she and her daughter Lauren chased after the horses. Tragically, they found their oldest horse, Navar, a 16-year-old show jumper, with a compound leg fracture. “I found him on the ground, with his bone through his leg dangling off. It was probably the most horrific sight I’ve seen,” a devastated Golding said.

A veterinarian arrived and it was decided Navar’s leg could not be repaired. He was put down, and Golding told the CBC she was at least glad he was taken out of his “excruciating agony” as quickly as possible. “Navar would take care of me. He was my guy… I really am going to be very lost without him.”

Golding also posted about the loss on her Facebook page and touched on how Navar was more than a successful show jumper, he also helped her through recent cancer treatments. Many of us will relate to her words about her special horse.

“Last night the unimaginable happened. My neighbours guests decided to set off fireworks at supper time which terrified my horses and they ran away. Navar broke his leg and had to be euthanized. Navar was nothing short of amazing. He exuded confidence and gave to anyone who was lucky enough to be riding him. His successes in the jumper ring were many, but he gave me so much more than that. He has been my best friend for almost 16 years. And as much as he gave me, he also gave to Lauren. As I worked through my cancer treatments this year Navar was the one I could rely on to take care of me whenever I could ride. I don’t know what I am going to do without him but I know the world is a worse place without him in it. The fact that we lost him one day after saying goodbye to Bruce is the only small comfort that my boys are together like they were everyday before.”

There was a huge outcry of support following that post and she followed it up with a link to a Change.org petition launched by fellow NS equestrian Baillie Gardner calling for changes to who fireworks are sold to and how and when they are used.

Golding followed up her initial post with this: “Navar was a huge presence in life. His death was senseless but if it can bring awareness at least it won’t be totally in vain. I want to thank everyone who has expressed their condolences, shared Navar’s story, contacted me and have helped me. The truth is – I am struggling to deal with this – but the support I have felt is nothing short of incredible.”

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