The outdoor season is rapidly approaching as many riders up and down the country prepare for another summer of training, travelling and competing. But if your horse looks great on the outside, does that mean they feel great on the inside?
Inflammatory airway disease (IAD) affects huge numbers of horses and often goes undetected while also impacting their performance.
What does IAD mean for the horse?
The presence of fungi in the airways has been directly linked to the development of IAD. Horses with fungal presence are 2.1 times more likely to develop IAD than horses with no fungi in their airways. A complaint of exercise intolerance was also more frequent in horses with tracheal wash fungal particles (23%) versus horses without. The presence of fungi in the airways is avoidable, meaning that IAD can be largely evaded with correct care and management with Haygain steamed hay playing the principal role in avoiding exposure to fungi.
Inflammatory Airway Disease – all you need to know
The symptoms of IAD are nonspecific and can be subtle, which poses a diagnostic challenge. This recent study showed it is even more prevalent than previously thought. A cough, poor performance and excess mucus within the airways on endoscopy is a key characteristic of IAD and should never be ignored. This disease differs from cases of Severe Equine Asthma (COPD/heaves), in that affected horses typically do not show increased respiratory efforts at rest.
Most, but not all horses with IAD will develop a cough that lingers but have no fever. Affected horses may be training fine but don’t perform well in competition and take longer to recover normal breathing but otherwise, horses with IAD appear bright and maintain their usual appetite.
These findings are part of the recent research by Dauvillier et al, published by The Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine (JVIM) which revealed that feeding Haygain steamed hay reduced the chance of horses developing IAD by 65%. It also found that horses fed dry hay had a 2.6 times increased chance of having fungi in the airways and that the degree of lower airway inflammation was significantly higher when horses were housed indoors and bedded on straw.
Several studies have shown that more than 80% of horses have Inflammatory Airway Disease and in this latest study a diagnosis was established in 88% of the cases assessed by an ambulatory internal medicine practice in Europe.
Prevention is always better than cure
This study continually states that bedding on straw and feeding dry hay cannot be recommended for performance horses as they are significant risk factors for IAD. Soaking hay did not decrease the risk of IAD whereas the use of high‐temperature hay steaming, in a Haygain, not only had a protective effect against the development of IAD but was the only effective way to prevent it.
For more information please visit haygain.co.uk.