Most horse owners have seen or personally owned an older horse that may cough once or twice when exercise begins. For the most part, people are not alarmed by this warm-up cough but “why” may cross their minds. So why does your horse cough during warm up but show no further signs of respiratory issues throughout the ride?
In most cases, this is nothing to worry about. This is more than likely just a reaction to exercise, also considered a “warm up” cough. A cough generally begins when receptors in the esophagus become irritated by dust, pollen or cold air. A cough begins a chain on events:
1. Horse inhales
2. The larynx closes, locking air in the respiratory tract
3. Muscles in the abdomen contract
4. Air pressure increases in the lungs
5. Larynx reopens
6. Air rushes out with irritants (the cough)
These warm-up cough symptoms occur when mucus accumulates behind the larynx. As the horse begins to exercise, he will breathe deeper which may cause him to cough in order to clear his airways. Some horses or older horses will produce more mucus than others, which causes a cough at the beginning of a ride.
One or two simple coughs at the beginning of a ride are nothing to be concerned about. If the problem is persists throughout the ride, you may want to consider contacting your vet. Happy trails!
For more information, visit: http://www.equisearch.com/horses_care/when-your-horse-coughs-while-warming-up/
and don't forget to visit our blog for more winterhorse care tips.