Winter Equine Respiratory Health Challenges, Part 3.

Winter Equine Respiratory Health Challenges, Part 3.

What stable air is doing to our horse’s respiratory system?

The domestication of horses has led them to be housed in an unnatural environment with dusty bedding and poor ventilation which we call stables, barns or stalls. Several studies have shown that the stable environment has had harmful effects on the horse’s respiratory system and things aren’t changing anytime soon. Luckily, there are to innovative Equine Products out there which are fighting to protect the horse’s health by providing direct nebulisation solutions to keep our horses’ respiratory system healthy. If horse owners want to continue stabling their horses, then we must look at what’s happening to our stabled horses and what’s available to protect our horses immediately.

What particles can be found in stable air?

A recent study stated that chronic airway disease in horses is caused usually by being exposed to excessive concentrations of airborne dust, moulds, viruses, bacteria, spores, aeroallergens, and endotoxins which mostly originate from bedding and feed. 1. This article will help you understand your horse’s stable environment so that you can help them before it’s too late.


Dust is a mixture of pollen, bacteria, mould, and plant fragments that come together from several sources found in your stable. The main sources include horse feed, bedding and clutter in your stable. The sources spread through sweeping, feeding in hay nets or racks and using bedding that comes with a lot of dust. All these dust particles spread around your stable and horse truck and sometimes fall into your horses, water troughs making dust inhalation worse for your horse. Decreasing dust levels will help your horse’s health but it won’t prevent respiratory disease without revolutionising your stable management practices.

Horse owners can use nebulization solutions to help get a grip on issues caused by dust mites found in dust which are known to cause equine asthma. If you have experienced asthma or know someone that has, then imagine how it affects your horse’s performance when they are exposed to extremely high levels of dust for at least half of the day whilst stabled. Nebulization allows for direct drug delivery to the lungs and airways which means quicker recovery and return to competition or work.


Ammonia is a toxic fume that can be smelled in the stables and is known to irritate the respiratory system of the horse. We cannot eliminate these particles from the air completely but reducing them will help a little bit. Ammonia is mixed with dust providing poor quality air circulating the stable and available for inhalation for your horses.

Inflammation in the horse’s respiratory tract can often be caused by ammonia in the air. The corrosive substance causes a burning situation in the nose and respiratory tract leaving the horse with inflamed alveoli and bronchioles. Lower levels of ammonia concentration cause coughing. To allow a horse to recover from breathing in poor quality stable air, nebulisation is a common practice.

A nebuliser is a device for turning an aqueous solution/suspension of a medication into a fine mist or aerosol of fine particles for inhalation. The stat-of-the-art Vibrating Mesh Technology, incorporated in Flexineb, coverts liquid medications into a fine aerosol to be delivered directly into the horse’s lungs.

The Flexineb is an easy to use, horse friendly device, that includes a specialised Aerosol Chamber which holds the Aerosol generated by the Medications Cup and is stored there until the horse is ready to inhale, this significantly reduces wastage. Managed correctly, your vet will be able to deliver medication to your horse much more efficiently that that of traditional medication delivery methods.

What is causing poor stable air?

Bedding & Poor Stable Hygiene

Hay and straw naturally contain a large amount of microflora that can further proliferate when stored or when used as a forage or bedding. These materials are composed of fungi and bacteria which contain spores small enough to be inhaled to alveolar level, triggering an immune response such as inflammation. 2.

Depending on the respiratory condition your horse may be suffering from, the use of an equine nebulizer can help to reduce inflammation in your horse’s lungs by delivering a wide range of medications including antibiotics, corticosteroids, bronchodilators and mucolytics.

Poor Ventilation

Old buildings may not have proper ventilation to allow for proper air circulation in the stable. Some new stables may have a ventilation machine in place, but they keep the windows closed or the stables dirty, therefore the problem still exists.

For a horse to have their lungs in top health, they may require regular nebulisation to treat lung inflammation from constantly breathing in dust particles in their environment.

How can we treat our horses?

Flexineb is an equine nebuliser made to help horse owners alleviate their horses of respiratory issues. The use of equine nebulizers is considered a very effective method for treating respiratory issues in horses. In addition, equine inhalation therapy is considered the preferred method for treating severe and mild to moderate equine asthma and recurrent airway obstruction (RAO).

(VIDEO): The Flexineb in use

The Flexineb is the best thing I have had as an aid to my horse! It is a crucially important piece of equipment and so easy to use.’

Jessica Harrington, Leading Irish Dual Racehorse Trainer

The Flexineb is certainly the jewel in assisting me with opening the Lungs of my horse The Only One before Cross Country or getting rid of an annoying dust allergy cough in Ravenstar.

Jayne Doherty, Irish International Event Rider

Flexineb is a vital component of the treatment protocol for numerous upper and lower respiratory conditions that we see on a day to day basis.

John Hanly MVB, MRCVS, Equine Veterinarian

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to replace professional veterinary advice. Always consult your veterinarian if your horse as any health-related issue or is exhibiting symptoms.


  • 1.Saastamoinen, M., Särkijärvi, S., & Hyyppä, S. (2015). Reducing respiratory health risks to horses and workers: a comparison of two stall bedding materials. Animals, 5(4), 965–977.

Dauvillier, J., ter Woort, F., & van Erck‐Westergren, E. (2019). Fungi in respiratory samples of horses with inflammatory airway disease. Journal of veterinary internal medicine, 33.

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