Time for a quick dip?

Dusty hay harbors allergy triggers. Low levels of these fine particles irritate a horse with sensitive respiratory airways. Briefly dipping hay flakes or a full hay net into the clean water and immediately removing it coats the hay with enough moisture to remove particulates. A ten-minute dip is best for a horse with mild respiratory issues and avoids removing needed nutrients.

Long-distance travel risks the suppression of the immune system. The respiratory system can’t clear the airways and the lungs from foreign substances. Trailer ventilation tends to be limited. The position of a horse in a trailer combined with extended hours on the road compromises the animal’s ability to expel unwelcome particles from its lungs. The number of inhaled irritants increases because of the horse spending hours in the trailer with the culprit – hay bag – lodged in its face.  Confinement of multiple horses in transport escalates the number of irritants. The severity of the respiratory disease varies from a mild upper airway inflammation to a life-threatening condition like “shipping fever.”

Filling a hay net with dampened hay for horses riding long distances removes dust and bacteria, but if forage remains uneaten, particularly on a hot day of travel, hay may begin to mold.

Don’t forget to keep an eye on the dampened hay’s condition and whether your horse still finds the forage palatable. Stay tuned for thoughts on soaking hay!