The best housing for horses with respiratory problems

Horses can suffer from various respiratory conditions, such as a cough or a cold. Chronic issues like COPD, asthma, and dust allergies are also common in horses. How can you best accommodate your horse if it has respiratory problems?


11 June '24 3 min reading time

Many people have learned that it is good to stay warm when we are sick. Close the windows to avoid drafts and dress warmly. However, for horses with chronic breathing problems, coughing issues, or a dust allergy, a closed stable is not a good option. Fresh air is very important.


A horse with respiratory problems is best kept outside as much as possible. In a stable, the amount of irritating substances such as dust and ammonia is much higher. These substances irritate the lungs, causing a horse to cough and develop irritated or even inflamed airways. When the lungs are irritated, it also affects your horse’s immune system. It decreases, giving cold viruses a chance. So, put your horse out in the fresh air! An exception is a horse with a pollen allergy (hay fever). For these horses, it might be more comfortable indoors on days with high pollen counts (May/June/July) than outdoors.

Stable Management

If your horse does not stay outside all the time, you can also take measures for the hours spent in the stable to help reduce respiratory problems.

Stable measures:

  • Provide roughage/hay with little dust and no mold.
  • Soak or steam the hay for sensitive horses.
  • Use flax (or coarse wood shavings) as bedding instead of straw.
  • Only bed the box when the horse is outside.
  • Sweep (or blow) the stable aisle only when the horse is outside.
  • Always ensure ventilation with fresh air (but avoid excessive drafts).
  • The humidity in the stable should be 60-80%, which you can achieve with proper ventilation.

Allergy or Asthma?

Are you wondering if your horse has a dust allergy or asthma/COPD? An allergy is an acute reaction to irritants such as pollen, dust, or mold. Asthma, on the other hand, is a chronic respiratory condition caused by damage to the lungs. An allergy to mold and mold toxins (endotoxins), for example, can cause inflammation and narrowing of the airways. Your horse may then have difficulty breathing freely. Ammonia from manure and urine can cause extra irritation in a poorly ventilated stable. You can recognize a dust allergy by your horse coughing at the beginning of your ride or training. Make sure to solve this with good management, as long-term irritation can eventually lead to chronic respiratory problems!


To support your horse’s airways and immune system as best as possible, you need to ensure healthy nutrition and adequate exercise, in addition to good stable management and ventilation as mentioned above. Both free movement and appropriate training are important. To support the immune system, a supplement made from cloves, which contains many natural cannabinoids, is a good addition. If your horse has sensitive lungs, you can support the cilia in the lungs in their filtering function with the help of a herbal supplement. In a dusty environment, these cilia do not work well enough. This can cause irritation to the airways. There are herbs with a soothing effect that replenish the mucus substances. This way, the cilia can filter the air properly again. Suitable herbs include eucalyptus, echinacea, white willow, and schisandra.

If you would like a customized advice for your horse, feel free to call us for free and non-binding advice.


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Het stalklimaat. Joyce de Hoogh.

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