Stable Bedding….with Respiratory Health in mind.
Ask any equestrian how they bed their horse, and you will have a lot of different answers, but one thing is for sure……its probably more comfortable than their own bed!! It’s well known that horses live in a very respiratory unfriendly environment, full of potential irritants for the animal. So to help in their overall management, we look at their environment and their treatment program. Many of our respiratory horses live outside, and historically that was one of the key techniques our veterinarians used to ‘prescribe’ our horses with respiratory issues. Modern horse keeping, and keeping horses at competition level, doesn’t always allow for our horses to live out 24/7 365 days of the year, so we need to look at the best bedding options available to us, to minimise the risks associated with stabling the equine asthmatic.
White wood shavings are possibly one of the most popular options for modern horse owners, they are quick to skip out and provide good absorbency – BUT they can be quite dusty unless specifically Dust extracted, or ‘season dried’ can be somewhat damp limiting dust levels instead of ‘kiln dried’. Look for dust extracted options or alternatively season dried.
Exactly as in its name – saw dust is not necessarily the best option for our equine asthmatics in that although it is super absorbent, affordable, readily available and soft – it can be a major aggravating factor for some of our horses. Best to steer clear of saw dust for your respiratory prone horse.
Straw is unfortunately, one of the most hazardous bedding types for equine asthmatics in that it can host a multitude of dust particles & mould spores – this isn’t down to ‘bad straw’ alone – the nature of straw harvesting, similar to hay, means that this is an inevitable consequence of its existence and harvest. Straw pellets have become an option in some countries, which can avert the spore issue as it is treated at high heat in the extrusion process.
Have become increasingly popular in recent years, and creates a lovely soft & fluffy bed just like shavings and straw, when it is watered/dampened down with a watering can. The pellets expand and provide a low dust & spore option for you to bed your horse on.
One thing we have learned over the years, is that, no 2 horses with a respiratory issue are the same – they are all different in how they respond to treatments, and management programmes. And that is one piece of the puzzle which many can forget – their environment – includes their bedding, thus in turn you need to make a conscious effort to minimise any irritants in their environment.
Investing in rubber stable matting to minimise bedding use or even better, a fully sealed flooring system, can be a large investment initially, but can help minimise the volume of bedding you utilise, with the aim of paying for itself in cost savings.