Showing, riding, racing and agricultural care and feeding of horses is ancient, persistent, and a surprisingly extensive business. There are many thousands of arenas and stables in the United States exhibiting or housing horses indoors.
Dust is a major concern for every indoor horse-riding or housing venue. Studies have shown that horses will be much healthier if they spend a large portion of their lives out of barns and stables. The reason the indoor environment is not good for them boils down to dust. Horses have evolved good defenses against airborne particles. However, the indoor environment has so much dust that their defenses often can't cope.
Much of the dust comes from particles associated with the hay that always surrounds horses indoors. Hay is easily converted to dust by foot traffic over it. What is in the dust is unpredictable. Performance and health suffer with exposure to high levels of dust particles that block nasal passageways and cause allergic reactions. The horse's cellular defense mechanisms mobilize white blood cells to attack foreign particles causing swelling in the delicate nasal membranes, potentially causing serious respiratory disorders.
Dust control is a vital part of managing indoor settings for horses, especially larger facilities like barns and arenas.
There are many solutions to the problem of dust control and commercially available products that go along with them.
- Commercially available footing materials composed of wood chips with sand, materials made of walnut shells or similar heavier particles reduce the level of dust.
- Footing materials containing rubber, ag-lime, or soil are available as well but not generally recommended for horses.
- Many arenas operate sprinkler systems that spray water on the top layers of footing. Manual stirring of the footing material must follow the spraying.
- Chemicals sprayed on the footing act by coating the particles of dust, making the particles heavy so they are less airborne. Many advise against the use of chemicals because of their own unpredictable health effects.
- Organic, vegetable based oil spray products that coat the dust particles are also available.
- Available dust control products use a magnesium chloride mixture to chemically "attract" water from the air to dampen the footing material. Spreaders apply the product as crystals that cover the floor, resulting in long-term dust suppression.
Arena and barn owners can consider the costs and benefits of a range of dust suppression solutions. Maybe we can help. Contact us.