A new study has found that as many as one in six horses suffers from Respiratory Airway Obstruction (also known as COPD or heaves).

The research, funded by the Home of Rest for Horses, also established that many equines were kept in poorly ventilated stables surrounded by fodder and bedding — a challenge to the respiratory tract of any horse.

A horse’s respiratory system is adapted for its natural environment: open pasture and limitless fresh air, the report notes. It also suggests that many owners adopt better management practice only when their horse develops a respiratory problem, rather than taking action to prevent it from occuring.

Now The Home of Rest for Horses, working with the British Horse Society, has published a free educational booklet to help horse owners understand, prevent and manage this distressing and debilitating condition.

“Good ventilation is essential for horse health,” said Paul Jepson, Veterinary Director of The Home of Rest for Horses. “This is undermined when the breathing zone is surrounded by bedding and forage containing dust and fungal spores. Horse owners must understand that they should make every endeavour to improve the air quality of their horse’s stable.”

A copy of the booklet, Horse Respiratory Health is available free on receipt of a stamped addressed envelope from The Home of Rest for Horses, Lacey Green, Bucks, HP27 0PP.