Here at Hi Form our total concern is for the health and wellbeing of all equines. Here we look at how we can assist our equines when stabled or during winter months when the grass is no longer growing.
It is important if your horses are stabled to have a well-ventilated barn and especially critical for horses prone to respiratory conditions or those who have been diagnosed with Equine Asthma (EA) this is now the overarching term used to describe respiratory diseases such as Inflammatory Airway Disease (IAD), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Recurrent Airway Obstruction (RAO and Heaves. Whilst it may be better to have horses with these conditions turned out, this is not always possible and then in spring there is also the increased risk of allergies to a number of plants, pollens etc.
When our horses are stabled, hay can be one of the major sources of small particles in the air, we are big advocates of hay provision for all horses and for steaming across the board, which will decrease the dust and mould content.
RespiraFix will be available in the UK in early 2024. As with all Hi Form products it is all-natural herbal extracts of the highest quality plus Vitamin C to support the respiratory system, especially useful in conditions such as Equine Asthma which include COPD, chronic coughing, pneumonia as well as swelling and inflammation of the bronchial tubes.
Supplying steamed hay in slow feeders as close to the ground as possible is highly recommended. Whilst slow feeder hay nets can be used in the absence of feeders, we need to keep our horses in as natural a feeding position as possible as if they are chewing hay from a hay net or feeder at chest height or higher they are far more likely to inhale particles. Hay replacements such as hay pellets are also an option to provide dust-free intake.
In fact, eating any feed or hay at chest height or higher can cause all sorts of health issues. Eating in a natural, head-down position also assists with clearance and drainage from the respiratory tract.
An important nutrient that has been shown to be beneficial for respiratory health is omega-3 fatty acids, for a few reasons. These fatty acids are absorbed into cell membranes throughout the body, including in the lungs, to support the integrity and pliability of the tissues. Omega-3 sources, especially those which supply or are highly converted to DHA and EPA (specific long-chain omega-3s), have anti-inflammatory properties. Horses suffering from respiratory issues, including asthma or allergies, feeding, preferably Cold Pressed Flax Seed (Linseed) oil with a well-balanced natural diet to support your horse’s respiratory health is an excellent inclusion and has very strong scientific support.
Many studies have suggested that steaming hay significantly decreases mould content and induced less tracheal mucus in horses. Steamed hay also induced BALF (Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid) neutrophilia, and did not induce respiratory clinical signs. The relevance of steaming hay however warrants further investigations both in the context of prevention/therapy for mEA (Mild-Moderate Equine Asthma) horses at training and for long-term preclusion of lately developing sEA (Severe Equine Asthma).
Study results have shown the most effective way to reduce microbial allergens in hay is through steaming, due to the high heat application. In one study comparing the effect of soaking and steaming hay, only steaming effectively reduced the concentrations of both bacteria and mould contamination (Moore-Colyer et al., 2014).
In fact, submerging hay in water (soaking) can increase the bacterial counts in hay, and the longer the soaked hay sits before being consumed, the greater the increase.
Hay steaming does decrease the mould counts.
Therefore, employing additional management strategies to reduce allergen exposure and using appropriate medical treatments recommended by a veterinarian are also critical when managing horses with respiratory conditions especially asthma. There is also now growing interest in complimentary therapy products such as Breathe and RespiraFix in the management of respiratory conditions including asthma.
RespiraFix will be available in the UK in early 2024. It is an all natural herbal extract plus Vitamin C to support the respiratory system, especially useful in conditions such as Equine Asthma which include COPD, chronic coughing, pneumonia as well as swelling and inflammation of the bronchial tubes.
The formulation comprises of:
Marshmallow – to assist in the soothing of irritated inflamed airways, reduce allergic reaction and encourage the expulsion of mucus.
Rosehip – a powerful antioxidant, high in vitamin C with anti-inflammatory properties, supports really well horses coming back from illness and injury.
Vitamin C – Horses suffering from EA (Equine Asthma) have shown to have lower levels of Vitamin C in lung secretion than horses without EA. Assists in the support of horses experiencing oxidative stress in their lungs.
Curcuma Longa – helps the body rid the causative agents of respiratory infections due to its antimicrobial and anti-bacterial properties. In trials it has shown reduction in airway constriction and hyper-sensitivity to histamine.
Withania – helps to manage physical and mental health conditions, assists the immune system and reduces cortisol levels as well as stress and can assist in muscle building.
Peppermint – is used for digestive complaints and respiratory tract infections, helping to reduce inflammation and allergic reactions.
Aloe Vera – is known to have a wide array of medicinal benefits, particularly anti-inflammatory and ulcer properties.
Maritime Pine – assists in the reduction of allergies and asthma, helping to improve skin, vascular function, liver and the metabolism as well as helping with inflammation, immunity and lung disease.
Chamomile – is a nervine relaxant, and is known for its anti-allergic, sedative, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Garlic – cleansing and help supporting the whole respiratory system especially if there is infection.
Liquorice Root – anti-inflammatory, demulcent and expectorant properties will help with allergic inflammatory responses, to assist in slowing mucus production and to help soothe inflamed, irritated mucus membranes.
Rosemary – to assist in relaxing the smooth muscles of the trachea and help to reduce asthma symptoms.
Coltsfoot – it is known as the “cough plant”, its properties are anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and anti-catarrhal and to assist with respiratory tract disorders particularly coughing.
Thyme – to assist a horse’s respiratory system especially during cold weather and/or dusty environments.
As with all things, it is a combination of factors to assist in the management of our horses
1. Well-ventilated stables or barns
2. Steaming hay for horses with respiratory allergies is more advantageous than soaking, due to the decrease in both dust and microbial contamination.
3. Feed naturally
4. In conjunction with your vet, choose only human grade supplements to assist in the management of respiratory conditions. Hi Form prides itself as being one of the very few who use only human grade ingredients across all of its products.
Written by Antoinette Foster BSc Nutrition, Nutritional Therapist and Medical Herbalist