Haygain, the leading horse health innovation company, examine the effect of airborne fungi particles on the health of the competition horse, and examine the ways owners can limit their presence in the stable environment,

Producing a horse or pony for competition requires a high level of attention to detail. In order to ensure they are as healthy, happy and fit as possible. This means selecting the highest quality feed, bedding and supplements. As well as formulating a training and stable management regime that will deliver the best results.

Competition horses in training are often stabled. Indeed at least for part of the day if not all of it. This increases their exposure to airborne particles. Including dust, mould and fungi found in bedding and forage.

Inflammatory Airway Disease

The presence of fungi in the airways of a horse elevates their risk of suffering from Inflammatory Airway Disease (IAD). A truly hidden problem that can limit the athletic performance of equines. Rendering the hard work put into producing them wasted. Horses with IAD will often show no outward signs of having an issue. And often appear bright, happy and with a totally normal appetite.

They may have a cough but exhibit no fever. With the only indication that something is wrong being a reduction in athletic performance and a slow recovery time. An endoscopy will show increased mucus in the airways. Which can help owners to identify IAD as the cause of their animal’s reduced performance.

A landmark study over 3 years and looking at 700 horses has found that those who are fed dry hay have an increased chance (2.6 times) of having fungi particles in their airway. The incidence of lower airway inflammation was significantly higher when horses were stabled. And fed dry hay and bedded on straw. The study sampled the microbes found in the horses’ airway rather than the ones found in the air. In order to represent what horses breathe in when stabled.

Soaking hay vs. steaming hay

In addition, soaking hay did not reduce the fungi present in tracheal washes. Showing that it is not an effective method of controlling the chances of them developing IAD. In comparison, steaming the hay at high temperatures using a Haygain steamer reduced the incidence of fungi being present in the airways and therefore the potential impact of fungi and other microbes on the respiratory system. In fact, feeding steamed hay (from a Haygain Steamer) reduced the chance of a horse developing IAD by 65% – essential for the careful management and preparation of a competition horse.

Lastly, you can explore the Haygain hay steamer range here and find out more about the incredible benefits delivered by steaming forage. Haygain hay steamers start from £695.00 for the Haygain HG One.

Dauvillier et al carried out the research referenced. And published by The Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine (JVIM).