Supporting Your Horse’s Respiratory Health in the Spring
Springtime horse care is filled with concerns over too much sugar-filled grass, how to condition your equine athlete after a winter off, and even how to combat the mud that fills lower-lying paddocks. But supporting your horse’s respiratory health should also be at the top of your springtime horse health-care list.
Spring can be notoriously troublesome for a horse’s respiratory health. Because spring brings more environmental allergens, your horse may begin to exhibit respiratory issues like coughing, even though he may have been symptom-free throughout the winter. Respiratory disease and equine asthma often get worse during the spring, but by implementing a few management techniques can help you to keep your horse healthy through the spring.
Steam or Soak Hay
Hay can aggravate your horse’s respiratory health, since it contains dust and allergens. To minimize the negative effects of hay, steam it or soak it before feeding. Soak hay in cold water for at least an hour, or in hot water for at least 30 minutes before feeding.
When you feed hay, avoid using a hay net, which can cause your horse to breathe in more dust and particles while eating. Instead, feed hay from the ground level, ideally on top of a mat or feeder. Encouraging your horse to eat with his head lowered will make it easier for him to repeatedly clear his airway while eating.
Additionally, try to store hay in a building that’s separate from your barn. If this isn’t possible, then move any horse with known respiratory issues to a stall as far from your hay storage as possible.
Allergens abound in a stable, so maximizing your horse’s turnout time can help to reduce respiratory aggravation. Try to increase the amount of time he spends turned out each day or, ideally, opt for 24-hour turnout when possible. If your horse must spend time indoors, avoid sweeping the aisle when he’s in the stable.
Assess Your Bedding
Certain types of bedding may contribute to respiratory issues. Sawdust and shavings tend to be naturally dusty, and straw can harbor allergens and mold spores. Other low-dust and low-allergen bedding types, such as cardboard bedding, peat moss or even shredded corn cob can make good alternatives.
Trailer with Ventilation
When it’s time to trailer your horse to a show or competition, be sure that you maximize the ventilation available in the trailer. Forgo using shavings as bedding to help to reduce the amount of dust and allergens in the air. Open up all trailer vents during the trip.
To further support your horse’s respiratory health, administer BleederShield before and/or after hard exercise or a race. BleederShield promotes the repair of EIPH-damaged lungs while also reducing bleeding and reducing the risk of a horse suffering from EIPH. Completely free of banned substances, BleederShield will not test. It gives you one more tool to use to support your barrel racer, performance horse or racehorse during competitions.
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