Did you know that Respiratory issues are the second most common cause for illness and lack of performance after Musculoskeletal issues in adult horses??!!
Have you ever wondered why your horse may be coughing or what the discharge coming out of his nose may be?
Common issues with the horse’s respiratory system may include
This is where inflammation occurs in the lining of one or more of the nasal sinuses. The inflammation causes congestion, leading to build up of pressure which may result in pain.
Recurrent Airway Obstruction (ROA) / Heaves
A common respiratory disease in horses characterized by coughing, nasal discharge, and respiratory difficulty. It is caused by airway narrowing (bronchoconstriction), mucus production, and bronchospasm.
Infections, Coughs and Colds
Some common signs of respiratory issues to be aware of are
- Heave line
- Exercise intolerance
- Nasal discharge
- Respiratory difficulties
What could be causing respiratory issues for your horse?
- Allergens in the environment – either from lack of ventilation in stables or from pollens in the environment
- Equine Influenza
What options do I have to support my horse?
(The Wholistic Equestrian always advises to seek veterinary care immediately if your horse is struggling to breathe)
Steroids such as Cortisone are a popular treatment for managing respiratory issues in horses. This treatment, at times, can be a life saver in chronic conditions.
However, there are side effects to using steroids long term. They may suppress the immune system, weaken muscles and potentially increase the risk of laminitis.
The good news is you do have access to natural and holistic ways to help care for your horse’s respiratory system. There are many herbs that have been traditionally used for thousands of years, some of which I have outlined below.
Other things you can do to help your horse is to always soak hay where possible and ensure you take care of the immune system alongside the respiratory system.
5 Herbs That May Help Support Your Horses Respiratory System
- Traditionally used to relieve the irritation of the mucus membranes and coughing in horses
- May help to reduce swelling in the glandular system, loosen and clear mucus and phlegm
- Anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties that can reduce the production of thick mucus
- May help to open the lungs, ease spasms, tightness, and cough, and soothes irritation and dryness
- Traditionally known to support the immune system
- May help to soothe and clear airways
- Research has shown that giving horses Echinacea can have a positive influence in their red blood cells and haemoglobin, the molecule that transports oxygen to the cells. (The Equine Research Centre (ERC) in Guelph, Ontario)
- Echinacea is specific for the upper respiratory system, providing antiviral, antibacterial, immune-stimulant and anti-inflammatory action
Marshmallow Root Powder
- Marshmallow is known to be high in mucilage
- Helpful to soothe irritation in the airways
- Reduces allergic responses
- Encourages the expulsion of mucus
- Has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties that may reduce the production of thick mucus and help ease the urge to cough
- High in Vitamins A, D and E
- Fenugreek contains a wide array of compounds that are beneficial for the respiratory system, including volatile oils, alkaloids, saponins, flavonoids and mucilage
Licorice Root Powder
- The root of the licorice plant contains Glycyrrhizic Acid, which gives licorice its primary medicinal properties – a natural anti-inflammatory compound
- The root is typically dried and shredded or made into a powder
- Commonly used for bronchial issues in horses
- The anti-inflammatory properties of the herb also help to soothe a horse’s airways, reduce throat soreness and relaxes bronchial spasms making it a great treatment for horses with heaves or other respiratory issues
- Liquorice is particularly useful for horses whose allergies have had long term treatment with cortisone as it stimulates the body’s own production of cortisol
Have a Happy Day
A Modern Horse Herbal – Hilary Page Self
The Complete Horse Herbal – Victoria Ferguson
Horse Anatomy for Performance – Gillian Higgins