Summer Dust and How to Manage It

Written by Erin Romanin Nutritionist ©2017

Although the Australian summer can provide a nice change from the chilly winter’s day, the prolonged dry heat can turn those muddy paddocks into arid pens.

This may be an aesthetic inconvenience or just a typical part of the Australian summer, but beneath the surface it can pose a serious health risk not only to us but for our horses as well.

While respiratory diseases are multi-factorial, exposure to dust is well known as an environmental factor in the occurrence of airway disease and complications. Many studies have shown the relevance of dust exposure in respiratory disease progression in horses. One study, published by the Research in Veterinary Science examined the variance of dust particles in stables throughout the seasons and found an increased level of mould and endotoxins in the summer months in the enclosed space.

Clinical signs of dust inhalation can vary from reduced performance to chronic coughs and nasal discharge, like those in humans.

In unavoidable dusty situations such as barren regions of Australia or even just taking your horse to and from events during the summer, we believe preventative measures are always beneficial in protecting the horse from potential damage.

Our Breathe formula contains a high concentration of therapeutic herbs which have anti-tussive, anti-inflammatory, mucilaginous and antibacterial properties; these constituents line the respiratory tract and prevent damage and irritation from particle inhalation as well as binding to these particles and clearing them out of their system. In addition, these herbs assist in binding to mould and endotoxins so they are able to be eliminated. If you find your horse in these situations we highly recommend the use of Hi Form Breathe to protect them.

As well as dusty paddocks, stable air and feed are other major contributors to chronic airway diseases in horses and humans, due to the levels of moulds and endotoxins in the dust. This is just exacerbated in summer as the moisture dries up and creates more airborne particles.

What about dusty feeds?

Lightly dampening the feed may reduce the level of dust particles, however moving to a dust free feed is advisable. One of the features of our Hi Form Complete Feeds (formally known as Harry’s Choice) is that they are all dust free. How is this possible? Well it is due to the high level of cold-compressed, organic oil in the feeds. Not only does it provide a high value nutritional component, but it also binds all the components of the feed. Therefore, when you feed your horse their muzzles aren’t engulfed in dust particles and they can eat and breathe comfortably.

What about the paddocks and stables?

Manure that has been left out in the sun and heat for extensive periods of time can form into small particles and be blown into dust. Studies have found these particles are more readily absorbed into the respiratory tract due to their small size and more likely to contribute to disease due to the bacteria content. We suggest picking up manure in common areas to prevent further dust formation.

Good ventilation in barns and stables is vital to reduce the build-up of dust in an enclosed area. Ensuring barns and stables are constructed with good ventilation allowing for airflow will reduce the growth of moulds and bacteria as well as allow airborne particles to leave the space.


What about the riders health?

As horse riders we often put our horses’ health before our own, although given our lungs are smaller and more porous than our equine companions we need to make sure we are looking after ourselves as well.

There are several ways in which we can look after our own lung health, clearly wearing masks and following the above suggestions to limit the dust in the surrounding environment is beneficial in reducing the impact. However, ensuring you’re well hydrated will reduce the impact dust exposure has on your respiratory system, drinking warm water is particularly helpful as it is more readily absorbed into the cells.

If you have suffered from dust inhalation and find yourself with a dry and scratchy throat, or an irritated nose there are a few things you can do; having a tablespoon of local, organic honey will assist in soothing your throat. However, if it is more severe we recommend using Hi Form Breathe as a tea; 1 tsp in a loose-leaf tea infuser with 1 tsp of honey and let steep in hot water for 1-2mins before drinking, this will help to reduce the inflammation and irritation caused by the dust.

 For further information please contact us or phone 03 97756422 1300HIFORM or send us a message on FB


Kwiatkowska-Stenzel, A., Witkowska, D., Sowińska, J., & Stopyra, A. (2017). The effect of stable bedding materials on dust levels, microbial air contamination and equine respiratory health. Research in veterinary science115, 523-529.

Saastamoinen, M., Särkijärvi, S., & Hyyppä, S. (2015). Reducing respiratory health risks to horses and workers: a comparison of two stall bedding materials. Animals5(4), 965-977.

Kirschvink, N., Sbaı̈, I., Vandenput, S., Art, T., Roberts, C., & Lekeux, P. (2002). The use of cardboard bedding material as part of an environmental control regime for heaves-affected horses: in vitro assessment of airborne dust and aeroallergen concentration and in vivo effects on lung function. The Veterinary Journal163(3), 319-325.