Breathe Easy – Maintaining Respiratory Health in the Stabled Horse

After lameness, breathing related issues are the most common reason for a vet to be called out and potentially 80% of horses in the UK that are stabled have some degree of airway inflammation.

If your horse suffers from respiratory problems, being stabled for long periods during winter can make the condition worse.

As horse owners our natural instinct is to want to keep our beloved horses snug and warm and free from any draft from a howling winter wind, when in reality it is important to ensure a good free flow of air at all times.

Good ventilation is extremely important to the respiratory health of our horses during the winter months as the impact of breathing related conditions can have severe consequences for the well-being and performance of your horse.

As horses age, their respiratory system can deteriorate through exposure to irritants such as dust particles that are brought into the stable through hay and bedding. However, there are a number of ways in which we can help to keep the air quality inside the stable as dust free as possible.

Your choice of bedding can make a big difference to the levels of dust present within your horse’s stable and mould and dust spores from poor quality bedding can have a detrimental effect on the respiratory system in a short period of time.

For this reason it is essential to select a dust free bedding such as Terravesta Equine and remove the dirty bedding everyday as ammonia can aggravate breathing conditions.

Try not to muck out with your horse in the stable. In winter when time is limited it can be tempting to muck out your horse and sweep the bedding back with your horse still in the stable in an effort to save time but this can expose your horse to unnecessary dust.

If you are not confident that your bedding is dust free, make sure that you allow some time for the dust to settle when you have added fresh bedding, before returning your horse to the stable. The same rule applies to grooming your horse in the stable.

As part of your stable management routine try to regularly clean away any cobwebs that can build up and potentially harbour dust spores. Cobwebs can also be a fire hazard so this is another good reason to keep on top of this chore. If fresh air is allowed to circulate effectively around your stable, this will help prevent cobwebs from forming, as well as keep dust particles to a minimum.

Hay can also be a source of irritant to the stabled horse. If your horse has a known respiratory condition feed the forage ration from the floor as lowering the head is the horse’s natural way of clearing inhaled material from the nostrils.


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