Love is in the air—along with mold spores, dust, allergens and other not-so-lovely respiratory irritants. Carrots and cookies are sweet, but what your horse would really love, and benefit from, is clean air in his living environment. That’s the best way to show love and it’s easier than you might think.
Cleaning up the air quality in the barn involves rethinking common horsekeeping misconceptions: Like the idea that more is better when it comes to stall bedding and that high-quality hay must be clean hay. Both beliefs contribute to an unhealthy stable environment that compromises otherwise healthy horses’ comfort, well-being and performance.
That stall filled with banked corners of shavings and a pile of lush, fresh-looking hay looks like a manifestation of a horse owner’s love, but it could be the cause of that persistent cough or limited lung capacity that compromises its potential.
When you’re ready to shake up your horsekeeping habits, start at ground level. We bed stalls deeply to provide a comfortable place for our horses to stand and lie down. ComfortStall®’s wall-to-wall flooring mattress system is a much healthier way to do that. Its matte black surface may not have the look of love, but don’t be deceived. Medical grade foam cushioning improves joint health and circulation by massaging the frog of the foot with every step, plus it’s an invitation to lie down for longer periods. Savvy stable managers recognize long stretches of lying down as the best indicators that a horse is relaxed and comfortable in its living environment.
The respiratory benefits of this sealed flooring system are equally powerful. Shavings or straw are only needed to absorb urine and are quickly removed with daily maintenance. The resulting slash of labor and maintenance costs shows some love to your pocketbook.
The best perk is eliminating the accumulation of urine that creates ammonia odors in the stall, a major airway irritant. Unlike rubber mats that are laid down in pieces, ComfortStall’s flooring system is installed in one piece and sealed to the stall walls. No seams or gaps in coverage mean no places where moisture and urine can seep through and become an under-mat breeding ground for unhealthy bacteria and harmful odors.
Think about your horse’s hay next. The field-to-barn trek all hay undergoes en route to the stable is an odyssey of exposure to multiple pollutants. It’s widely accepted that even top-quality, top-dollar, hay is loaded with particles that get into the horse’s airway and lungs.
Steaming hay is the scientifically established way to clean it. A 2010 study published by the European Workshop for Equine Nutrition found that steaming hay in a HayGain® Hay Steamer reduced by 94% the amount of breathable particles in the four common types of hay tested.
Less shavings and cleaner hay equals cleaner air. And that equals happier, healthier horses. As meaningful Valentine’s Day horse gifts go, that’s pretty sweet!
Reprinting permitted. Haygain is committed to improving equine health through scientific research, product innovation and consumer education in respiratory and digestive health issues. With offices in England and the USA, Haygain distributes products for healthier horses to 19 countries, including its Haygain® Hay Steamers, ComfortStall® Flooring System, ForagerTM Slow Feeder and Flexineb Nebulizer. Visit www.haygain.com for more information.