Sponsored by Flair, LLC

Managing your horse’s recovery after training or competing can have a big impact on how your horse will perform, especially if you’re at a competition where he has to run several times on the same day or competes over several days. Effectively managing your horse’s recovery can help the horse mentally cope with training and competition and shorten the time period until he is ready to compete again. A prolonged and uncomfortable recovery could have a long-term effect on his behavior and willingness to train or compete.  

Phases of Recovery

Horses that finish competing or a long training session recover in three phases:

  1. Cool-Down: A period immediately after exercise when it is important to bring a horse’s body temperature, breathing and heart rate back to normal. This phase is relatively short and is typically the time from finishing exercise to being back in the barn. 
  2. Rest: A slow rest period over the next 24 hours that helps a horse’s body heal after heavy exertion.
  3. Recovery: A period of days or weeks until the horse is fully back to where he was before competing.

“Blowing” After Exercise

How a horse behaves and how his body responds during the crucial first phase of recovery primarily depends on the intensity of the work and how hot he is. During a canter or gallop, the horse’s breathing and stride are locked – the breathing rate is the same as the stride rate. When the horse breaks down from canter, breathing became dissociated from stride and is often slower and deeper (perhaps 60-80 breaths per minute) than during work. Unlike when galloping, the entire rib cage will move. This deep breathing is commonly referred to as “blowing.”

benefits diagram of Flair nasal strips on equine race recovery

It’s often suggested that blowing is caused by low arterial blood oxygen and/or high blood carbon dioxide. While oxygen and carbon dioxide do affect breathing, body temperature primarily controls blowing after exercise. Although a horse’s oxygen may be low and carbon dioxide high during exercise, as soon as the horse begins to slow down, the oxygen rapidly increases and the carbon dioxide rapidly falls. Body temperature takes longer to go down so blowing persists to help the horse to continue to cool down.

Along with blowing, there will be other signs that the horse is hot, such as sweating and feeling hot to the touch. While evaporation of sweat helps dissipate heat, the loss of heat by evaporation of moisture in exhaled breath is also an important contributor. Moving air in and out of the lungs while blowing consumes a lot of energy. At this point, you may notice that the soft tissue over the nasal passages gets sucked inwards, narrowing the nasal passages and increasing airflow resistance, so that more energy is needed for breathing.

horse in the cool down phase of recovery

Developed by veterinarians, FLAIR® Equine Nasal Strips are drug-free, self-adhesive nasal strips that support the soft tissues over the nasal passages (the narrowest part of the upper airway) and reduce airway resistance to improve airflow, resulting in less stress on the body during exercise and a faster recovery after exercise

FLAIR Strips particularly provide benefits during “Cool-Down,” the initial phase of recovery. Leaving a FLAIR Strip on until the horse completely cools down allows the horse to move air more easily, which helps the horse conserve energy and cool out more quickly.

The Strips are clinically proven to make breathing easier, reduce fatigue, conserve energy, quicken recovery, and reduce lung bleeding. For more information about FLAIR Strips, please visit http://www.flairstrips.com.

Protect your horse and perform your best during training and competition:



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