I won't rehash the whole history of Moon's breathing problems, but since I am planning on running him a bit this year, I need to formulate an effective program to attempt to prevent what happened to him that last winter in AZ from happening again. I really feel that Moon's bleeding problem in the end was simply another symptom that his already compromised respiratory system was struggling and not something that was going on for along time. Of course, now that he actually did progress to bleeding, the chances of him bleeding again are significantly higher.
I know the 2 biggest culprits for setting Moon's respiratory system off are; alfalfa and dust. Heat is a bit of a factor, but moreso when coupled with dry conditions (dust). The heat does not bother him nearly as much when there is some humidity and dust is not a factor. Eliminating alfalfa from his diet has been an easy enough fix. No alfalfa hay and no supplements that have an alfalfa base. I do have some alfalfa growing in my pasture, but the green plant does not seem to affect him, so I'm safe there. Dust is a little harder to control. Although I think having an irrigated pasture for him to live in now will make a big difference. The irrigated part is just as importance than the pasture part because in the past, even when Moon was on dryland pasture, once it got hot and dry he would get a cough. Again with the dust problem.
There are 2 external products that I have decided to use and a 3rd I wished I could afford, but can't right now. The first and easiest is using the Nasal Flair strips regularly. Mostly for competition, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to also use them when doing any work that requires Moon to exert himself, such as sprint days or rigorous hill work. Studies show that at low speeds the Nasal Flairs only improve breathing by 25-30%, but at high speeds they improve breathing and reduce bleeding by as much as 50%. That is pretty significant. The second product is a nebulizer. I am going with the Equi-Resp model. I have talked to people who use them and have been told that they have seen significant improvement in their confirmed bleeders. One lady told me that it has helped enough that they were able to take their bleeder off of Lasix.
The third product I'd like to get, although I can't afford to right now is a hay steamer. If I thought that I'd ever be able to go down the road with Moon again or when I have another horse ready to go down the road on, I'd make that more of a priority, but I'll be staying pretty close to home this year with all of my horses. Even if I do decide to hit a rodeo or two, it will only be one or two day trips.
That brings me to the final phase of protecting Moon's sensitive respiratory system and that is supplements. This is where things got really confusing. I've tried numerous supplements on Moon over the years, but I was never really sure about what I was doing. I was just dumping recommended supplements into his feed with only a vague idea of what they were supposed to do. There was a couple that I know helped and some I know didn't. In the end, I had totally lost track of what I was doing. I've spent hours and hours looking for and reading the labels of dozens and dozens of supplements that purport to help the respiratory system. The more I looked the more I realized how lost I was. Just like joint supplements, respiratory supplements all seem to have similar ingredients, just in varying compounds. I decided that if I was going to be able to make better choices about the supplements I wanted to try, I had better do a little research on what exactly those ingredients were supposed to accomplish. I wrote pages and pages of notes about individual ingredients, but I was still having a difficult time figuring out exactly how they would fit together to help Moon's respiratory system. I just kept researching and reading until I happened on a little gem. A snipet out of some holistic vet book that broke it all down and suddenly it made sense.
To Be Continued!!