Tag Archives: health

Breathe easy – respiratory health explained

Your horse’s respiratory system is a complex part of his body. If he’s in good health, you probably won’t give it a great deal of notice, but respiratory problems can affect his wellbeing and performance, so it’s important to know what to look out for and how to keep him in the best of health.

Signs and symptoms

Your horse is only able to breathe through his nose, so his nostrils are a good place to start. You’ll notice that, when at rest, he takes 12–20 breaths per minute, with barely any movement in his nostrils. This will increase in abnormal conditions – he’ll breathe more rapidly in hot weather or with exercise. Flared nostrils at rest is a sign there’s something wrong.

Nasal discharge is also an indicator of respiratory health. You’ll rarely see any in a healthy horse, although small amounts of a clear, watery substance during or after exercise is normal. However, increased, thick or smelly mucus could indicate an irritation or an infection.

Although many healthy horses cough occasionally, frequent coughing is another common sign that something’s not quite right. If you notice your horse coughing regularly, speak to your vet to get to the root of the problem.

Be in the know 

Problems occur when your horse’s respiratory system is unable to function properly or efficiently. This can be caused by a number of factors, such as…

  • viruses
  • allergens
  • air quality

These factors place stress on his respiratory system, meaning it has to work harder, but there are lots of simple actions you can take to minimise these and help support his health.

Supporting his respiratory health

Knowledge of what can cause stress to your horse’s respiratory system is an important tool in maintaining and supporting it. Many horses are allergic to dust and fungal spores found in hay and bedding, and horses with prolonged exposure can develop conditions such as recurrent airway obstruction (RAO). As well as problems associated with ingesting dust and spores, these allergens can also have an impact on air quality, particularly if you have an enclosed, American barn-style yard and an adjoining indoor school.

Management methods to help combat these issues and support your horse’s respiration include…

  • steaming or soaking hay before feeding to minimize dust and spores
  • making sure he’s got clean, high-quality, dust-free bedding
  • improving ventilation on your yard, which could be as simple as keeping the doors open as much as possible
  • ensuring he’s out of the way when you’re mucking out or sweeping up
  • using a specifically-formulated feed supplement to help support a healthy respiratory system
  • maximising his turnout

If your horse seems susceptible to respiratory problems, consider shaking up his management a bit with a couple of these suggestions. It’s worth talking to your vet to help you formulate a management plan.

For all your horsey needs, visit bridlewayequestrian.com

The Benefits of Horse Riding

If you’re looking to get fitter in 2016 here at Bridleway we don’t think there’s any better hobby to improve fitness than horse riding. Not that you’ll need a reason to hop in the saddle in the New Year, but from strengthening your muscles to keeping your heart healthy and lowering stress levels, horse riding really is great for mind, body and soul. Here are just some of the benefits you can enjoy as a horse rider:

Improved fitness

A study by the British Horse Foundation (BHF) and Bournemouth University has reported that horse riding and taking part in associated activities, such as mucking out, use up enough energy to be officially classed as moderate intensity exercise.

So there’s no need to join the crowds at the gym in January if you’re looking to improve your fitness. As a rider, simply increasing the amount or intensity of riding you do and adding a few extra chores to your list around the yard can make a big difference. Did you know that just an hour of horse riding can burn up to 650 calories*?

Strong muscles

You might take it for granted that you can remain balanced in the saddle, but this engages and strengthens all your core muscles. The faster you ride the more balance is required and the more you will rely on your core strength to stay in position. The inner thigh and pelvic muscles are also working hard every time you ride out, but don’t forget the shoulders and arms, they are focusing on telling the horse what to do and remain engaged for the entire ride – giving you an almost total body workout!

Keep your heart healthy

As well as toning your muscles, riding improves aerobic fitness too. This does depend on the type of riding you prefer – a slow canter that doesn’t put you out of breath won’t be improving your heart’s health. However, increase the speed and agility involved and you’ll be working all those important muscles and your heart too.

Relax your mind

Horse riding, or even just spending time around your horse, is a great way to de-stress. Petting an animal can actually bring down blood pressure, relaxing the body and mind, so what better excuse do you need to give your horse more affection than usual? For many people, simply being outdoors and feeling close to nature can also add to a happy and relaxed mood.