Habitant horse owner heartbroken over New Year’s Eve fireworks incident
Champion horse euthanized after breaking leg
KIRK STARRATT VALLEY JOURNAL-ADVERTISER email@example.com
Fireworks are part of many New Year’s celebrations, but they have led to tragedy for a Habitant horse owner. Dawn Golding said it was just before she usually puts her horses in for the night on Dec. 31 when guests at a neighbouring property began lighting off fireworks. Golding said the horses were spooked badly and began “losing their minds.” She was screaming for the people, who she estimates were no more than 400 feet away and within sight, to stop. Golding said the horses went into flight mode and broke through a fence into another pasture. The fireworks continued as the horses busted through a second fence, including the posts, and onto a neighbouring farm. Along with her husband and daughter, Golding scrambled to locate the frightened animals in the dark. She found her 16-year-old champion Canadian sport horse, Navar, down on the ground in a field with what was obviously a badly broken leg. “It was horrifying to discover, but I still had to deal with a herd of horses that were loose and panicking, probably about a kilometre away from home,” Golding said. She said her daughter called the veterinarians, who came to look at Navar. The vets advised there was little that could be done short of euthanizing the horse where he was. It was heartbreaking to Golding and her loved ones, who considered Navar a member of the family. She said her daughter has been traumatized by the incident. Golding said there was more drama to deal with on New Year’s Day, when they had to get an excavator in to dig a grave for Navar. The timing couldn’t have been worse in the sense that they had to have another one of their horses, Bruce, put down a day earlier because of ongoing health issues. Golding said the idea that Navar and Bruce are now back together as they were every day before is something that she takes as a small comfort. She said there had been occasions when she was notified by neighbours beforehand that they were going to set off fireworks, but not in this instance. When she had prior notice, she could ensure that the horses were safely in the barn before they got spooked. “It was horrifying for that animal,” Golding said. “I have no words for what he went through.” ABOUT NAVAR Golding said they travelled with Navar — who was “nothing short of a superstar” in the jumping ring — to shows throughout Quebec and Ontario. Perhaps better known by his show name, Dark Knight, Golding said her horse was a provincial champion on multiple levels over several years. However, she said this “pales in comparison to what he meant and who he was.” She said Navar was “a character, big and bold and so confident in himself.” He seemed to be able to transfer this sense of confidence to every person he interacted with. Golding said Navar was her best friend and served as a great source of support to her. She said that as she worked her way through cancer treatments this past year, she could rely on Navar to take care of her whenever she could ride. “He knew how he needed to be with me and take care of me,” Golding said. She said maybe if people knew better, they would do better. She urges people to think twice before setting off fireworks because it can have a life-changing impact for animals and other people around them. A NEED FOR CHANGE Golding has been trying to reconcile in her own mind that somehow Navar’s horrible end will not be in vain. A friend who owns a farm asked her to share what happened to Navar through social media to help raise awareness. The friend told her that people using fireworks in the vicinity of their property has been an ongoing concern for them and their animals. Golding said she has been overwhelmed by the response to the news of his death, which has resonated with many people. She has since heard many stories involving fireworks and animals that are “equally as heart-wrenching.” Golding said there has to be some change when it comes to the use of fireworks. This could perhaps come in the form of changes to legislation, or a change in mindset. She knows of several people who are writing to their respective MLAs about it. Nova Scotia doesn’t have a specific law regulating the use of commercial fireworks. However, when the Office of the Fire Marshall bans open fires, commercial fireworks are not permitted. Golding pointed out that P.E.I. is one province where fireworks are not allowed. The P.E.I. Fire Prevention Act makes it an offence to sell or possess fireworks without a provincially granted permit. NO FIREWORKS BYLAW County of Kings director of planning and inspections Trish Javorek said the municipality currently has no bylaw that would regulate fireworks specifically. When asked if this is something the municipality may consider in the future, Javorek said it would be for council to determine if they had an interest in staff investigating options for fireworks controls. Javorek said there aren’t any other existing bylaws on the books in Kings County that could apply to people setting off fireworks. The only possible exception would be a noise control bylaw that applies to the Village of New Minas. It is the only area within Kings County covered by such a bylaw. The bylaw is enforced by the village and the RCMP.