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 without affecting carbohydrate, vitamin, or mineral content. A ten-minute dip is best for a horse with mild respiratory issues and avoids removing too many nutrients.

Long-distance travel risks the suppression of the immune system and impairs the respiratory system to 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. Indeed, the number of inhaled irritants increases because of the horse spending hours in the trailer with the culprit – hay bag – lodged its face.  Confinement of multiple horses in transport escalates the number of irritants, as well. The severity of respiratory disease exacerbated by transportation can vary 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 that may irritate its eyes and respiratory passages on the road. If forage remains uneaten, particularly on a hot day of travel, however, hay may begin to mold. Periodically checking the amount eaten and its dampness averts wasted forage and health complications.

Briefly spraying or dipping your horse’s hay shortens the time spent if you have a large herd to care for at mealtime. 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!