Is Your Horse Bedding Causing Respiratory Problems?

It can be a difficult task to know what the correct mixture of materials is to make up the perfect bed for your horse. Which type of matting to choose, which type of horse bedding and what are the varying costs from one choice to the next. With so many conflicting testimonies of what is best for your horse, you firstly need to consider the effects the different options can have on the health of the horse. What are the time constraints of each and the long term costs associated with your chosen materials.

The horse’s respiratory system has evolved to be out in the fresh air. When the seasons allow they can spend up to 70% of their time on pasture grazing… free in the open space, what a life! This isn’t a luxury all horses are able to experience but there are a number of factors to cover to ensure your stable is a haven of comfort for when they are indoors.

 

Equine respiratory issues

Let’s start with addressing respiratory issues, after all, health is the number one factor here and that comes gallops before time and money savings. Larger particles inhaled by a horse are prevented from entering the respiratory system being filtered out by the nasal passages. Smaller particles including dust and bacteria may travel to the lungs; especially when in a confined environment with a high concentration of airborne particles. The stable is not a natural environment for the horse and it houses a number of airborne particles such as dust, mould,  ammonia, fungi and toxins.

Horse respiratory system
Image credit: campus.fei.org

Your horse needs a clean, well aired space and good ventilation can be difficult to maintain. A surface that is easy to keep clean paired with bedding that has a low dust content will help the flow of clean and fresh air with daily mucking out – keeping your horse healthy.

 

Which type of matting

Horse Bedding

To lay the foundations for the right bed you firstly need to decide on the matting. Many opt for rubber matting, as at face value it can appear to be a less costly option, but this is not the case. Rubber mats harden over time, scientific fact. Imagine being stood up all day on a hard surface and then having to lie down on that same hard surface – you would need a heck of a lot of bedding to soften it up and make it comfortable.

An EVA mattress is made from a closed cell foam which outperforms the rubber mat in every way. It’s soft, which mean it is better on the legs and body of your horse. It’s strong and more durable than a rubber mat and it’s lightweight and very hygienic.

As it lasts longer than a rubber mat, you make savings in the long run as well as being safe in the knowledge that your horse is enjoying a much more premium bed.

 

Dust free horse bedding

Good quality bedding that has a low dust content is a must. If you opt for a premium EVA mat from the Mayo Horse Comfort range, you will need minimal bedding… a concept that most struggle to get their head around. As the matting is much softer, it leads to less bedding being required which means time is being saved mucking out and money is saved. It’s also a much more hygienic option and less bedding is also good for minimising smaller particles in the stable. The type of horse bedding you choose also has a huge impact on your horse. A study carried out by the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University Denmark showed ‘horses on straw were lying on lateral recumbency three times longer than those on shavings’. So horses were more rested on straw and had a more ‘Princess and the Pea’ type sleep on wood shavings.

You may want to take extra precaution and get spore free bedding. Horses can develop allergies at any time and spore free bedding is a safer, breathe easy option for horses with respiratory issues. A few bedding options to consider are:

  • Wood pellets – need to be soaked but less dust and much more absorbent so less time spent mucking out.
  • Steamed hay – time spent to steam but equipment can be invested in to save time, also spore free, dust free.
  • Cardboard – high absorbency, biodegradable, warm, spore and dust free.
  • Paper – high absorbency, biodegradable, warm, spore and dust free but being lighter can blow around much easier.

 

What’s our conclusion…

So in short, an EVA mattress with spore free or low dust horse bedding is not only better for the respiratory system and body of your horse, but also saves you time and is more cost effective in the long run… win win!

We’d love to hear what type of bedding you use and why?

 

Take a look at the full range of Mayo Horse Comfort Mats.