During the summer pollen blows in the wind and allergies to them can cause many problems in people and horses including hay fever and rhinitis. A pollen seed is a male structure that makes the sperm of the plant. When it lands on the female part it quickly germinates and forms a tube-like structure through which it sends the sperm to fertilise the female ovule.
Horse pollen allergies can cause many problems that get confused with other conditions and disturb the enjoyable times you have through the most wonderful time of the year. In this article, we will run through exactly why horses get allergies to pollen, some common symptoms, and some ideal methods of supporting your horse.
An allergy occurs when the body of your horse reacts too strongly to a foreign particle it is in contact with. At such a time the body produces a lot of inflammation and soreness as it protects itself. Some people think that allergies to pollen occur because the pollen grain is able to germinate when it touches the body because the normal inhibition factor that stops germination is missing from the horse’s body. The immune system produces the allergic response and a stable immune system is also very important. It is likely that deficiencies in the diet and other factors weakening the immune system cause these deficiencies and result in hay fever.
Whatever the reason for the irritation it is more likely to happen when the pollen levels are extremely high and there are all sorts of pollen from grass trees and flowers that are released at different times of the year. In the UK arable crops such as oilseed rape may cause particularly bad problems.
Horses may start to get sensitive to pollen as early as March and some individuals may react mostly to tree pollen later in the year. After all, this depends on the unique make-up of your horse because just like people they are each individuals.
We all know what it is like to have hay fever but what is it like in horses? They cannot tell us their eyes feel sore or that they just feel tired.
Your horse may just not be able to exercise properly and maybe a lot more tired from the pressure that the pollen exerts on the body. The nostrils might be a little more open and flared and the breathing may be a little difficult or labored or too quick. There may be dry coughing with a discharge from the nose that could be clear or coloured. Your horse might swallow after it has coughed and there might be mucus on the ground if the allergy is severe. In more difficult situations breathing might become very difficult and your horse might develop a heave line where it needs to use its diaphragm to force air out of the lungs.
The eyes will also become affected and as people report it may feel like you have sand in your eyes which can become quite red.
Eventually, the generalised allergic response might start to affect the skin and get linked to digestive concerns. There could be hives with irritated skin and hair loss and your horse might try to rub itself on doors and fences and trees. This might all sound quite extreme but the worst possibility is that the constant irritation affects the nerves in the head which leads to head shaking whenever there is irritation. After a whole summer of being constantly exposed to irritating pollen, there is a real danger that you will get nervous damage which will be very difficult to deal with.
After all, be assured that most such problems in horses are mild so try to address problems quickly, and if you can try to get them away from the worst sources of pollen.
Prevention of horse pollen allergies in horses possible but not easy. The horse must be healthy with good gut function and a plentiful supply of essential micronutrients vitamins and minerals. There are so many threats from the environment to a horse’s immune system we need to be very proactive. Antibiotics can harm the digestive system and immune system a great deal as a lot as can pesticide contamination in the feed and grass. Imbalances of these kinds can weaken the body’s ability to stop the germination of pollen as it lands on the eyes, nose, and mouth.
Make sure you feed a good mineral vitamin formula throughout the year and a good gut balance formula to maintain a strong immune system all the time. Brewers yeast is a good start but you may need much more
In addition to this, you may think about feeding local honey regularly as the pollen contained here seems to lessen the chance of horse pollen allergies.
More specific support can help a lot.
Some herbs like nettle can be very useful and some tropical herbal formulas including plants like the leaves of the Malabar nut tree can be excellent. I have even heard that in America the eggshells of some quails contain amazing chemicals which stop hay fever quite easily.
So this kind of result gives us hope and we are trying to perfect our work in the UK to produce similar approaches for our horses. We have some good ideas and are doing our best to refine the approach. Sometimes it is important to combine pollen formulae with strong cedar-based itch formulas to quieten the soreness inside the nose. When it gets really difficult Boswellia and magnesium can be useful to calm the nerves inside the head that make your horse shake its head too much in frustration.
In addition to direct approaches to horse pollen allergies, we can use lots of other useful practices. We can use nose nets to stop the air rushing over the nose and causing irritation. These nets can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and be an invaluable aid along with the right herbs and supplements.
High pollen levels can be quite overwhelming. I live in a part of the world where the tree pollen levels can rise to three times the maximum possible advised levels for healthy living. Sometimes we wonder why we feel tired and then we remember the pollen.
I have discovered that there are solutions. Sometimes you and your horse just need to try and hide away but at the same time if you prepare well during the year, understand the importance of good general health and nutrition you can have minimal problems.
Phone us with any questions and we will be pleased to help.