I’ve come to accept that, as a horse owner with a herd at home, I don’t get to celebrate Independence Day like “normal” people.

Each year on July 4, as the sun begins to set and lawn chairs get turned toward Pilot Butte (which is basecamp for our town’s fireworks display) my husband and I pack up our potluck picnic items and head home, as is our tradition. For me, making sure my horses are safe when the first firework fuse gets lit is top priority.

Living on a small horse property with the middle of the dry high desert, my concerns are twofold: First, I worry about my horses becoming spooked at the sight and sound of fireworks and inadvertently injuring themselves. Second, wildfire sparked by fireworks is a very real threat in our area.

I often wonder what horses think as the sky lights up and they hear the big booms. From their perspective, it must seem like the world in coming undone. But, for the most part, my horses cope.

Atty, the youngest at just 4 years old, is my most stoic herd member. She does tend to internalize stress, though, and is prone to severe gastric ulcers. For that reason, this year she’ll get a preventative, over-the-counter dose of UlcerGard (omeprazole) to help her tummy through the stressful holiday.

Jack, my sensitive Quarter Horse, will at first freak out, run around with his tail tucked and nostrils flaring, and then he’ll stop and accept his fate. “Tonight we die,” is pretty much the expression he’ll we