FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
A FLAIR Strip is a self-adhesive, drug-free, support that promotes optimum respiratory health of equine athletes. FLAIR Strips support the nasal passages of the horse during exercise, improving the horse’s airflow when it needs oxygen most. By reducing airway resistance resulting from physical exertion, FLAIR Strips help horses breathe easier, promoting peak performance and reducing injury to the lungs.
The FLAIR Strip is applied about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) above the opening of the nostrils. The Strips are constructed of FDA-approved medical-grade components including a non-irritating adhesive. Each strip is composed of three plastic springs that provide a precise level of force to help hold open the horse’s nasal passages.
Trainers and competitors at all levels of competition in every discipline, including jumping, endurance, reining, polo, barrel racing, eventing, flat and harness racing, and others use FLAIR Strips as an integral part of their training, conditioning, and performance regimens to keep their horses healthy.
Unlike humans, horses cannot breathe through their mouths. As a result, all horses experience some level of nasal tissue collapse during physical exercise. This partial “collapse” reduces the size of the airway, forcing the horse to work harder to breathe. Clinical studies at leading universities have shown that FLAIR Strips mechanically stabilize the size of the nasal passage opening, allowing oxygen to flow freely.
FLAIR Strips support nasal passages and maintain the airway during training or strenuous workouts.
Studies have shown that FLAIR Strips help horses breathe easier, resulting in reduced lung stress, reduced fatigue, quickened recovery and decreased incidence of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH), or bleeding in the lungs.
Most competitive horses experience some degree of EIPH, though the bleeding may not be visible at the nostrils. Continued episodes of EIPH can lead to permanent lung damage, scarring, and inflammation, increasing a horse’s vulnerability to secondary infections and illness. FLAIR Strips are proven to significantly reduce EIPH during heavy exercise.
FLAIR Strips have been shown to be as effective as Lasix for reducing bleeding.
Lasix is a drug, generically known as “furosemide”, which is a diuretic. When given to horses, the kidneys produce more urine than normal, which removes water from the blood, reducing the volume of plasma (the watery part of the blood as opposed to the red blood cells) in the circulation. But, because Lasix is a systemically administered drug, it does not reduce blood volume only in the lungs, it does so throughout the body. This causes dehydration, weight loss, and electrolyte loss.
Unlike Flair Strips, Lasix is a drug, and with repeated use of most drugs tolerance usually develops. Over time you have to use larger and larger doses to get the same effect. In contrast, the mechanical support provided by FLAIR Strips is more likely to be equally effective each time it is used without any undesirable side effects.
One clinical study of horses racing in California, showed that there may be a benefit to using both Flair Strips and Lasix to reduce bleeding. Severe bleeders showed a further reduction in bleeding of 65% when they raced with both a FLAIR Strip and were treated with Lasix, compared to being treated with Lasix alone.
*”Lasix” is trademark owned by Sanofi-Aventis Deutschland GmbH for the generic drug furosemide. More recently the trademark name used for the equine version of the drug has been “Salix” which is owned by Intervet, Inc. Because the name Lasix has historically been used when referring to the drug for horses, it is the name many recognize and so we use it here.
Healthy horses perform better. If your horse bleeds as most do when working hard, the irritating effect of blood in the airways will be reduced by FLAIR Strips and your horse’s lungs will stay healthier. In addition, FLAIR Strips reduce the energy required to take in oxygen. By reducing the amount of energy a horse spends just to get enough oxygen, FLAIR Strips enable horses to expend more energy on the task at hand. FLAIR Strips can also increase a horse’s stamina, allowing him to perform at full strength for longer periods of time, without becoming fatigued. Horses wearing FLAIR Strips use five to eight percent less energy at high speed and during recovery.
Riders and trainers notice their horses are more relaxed, look fresher and catch their breath faster when wearing a FLAIR Strip. Most trainers and competitors will notice a difference in either the “feel” or “sound” of their horse when they use FLAIR Strips. The most common statements shared are that “my horse had more air,” “he cooled down faster,” or “she just seemed calmer.” Still others state horses wearing FLAIR Strips are “quieter” or “less stressed.”
For best results, use FLAIR Strips to maintain normal airflow through nasal passages during any heavy exercise, whether in training or in competition. They should be applied to a clean, dry muzzle 30 minutes prior to starting a workout.
FLAIR Strips are designed to stay attached for up to a full day of exercise. After exercising, slowly peel the FLAIR Strips off, starting at the corners, and work your way carefully toward the center. FLAIR Strips are not reusable.
Clinical studies have not been conducted to objectively prove FLAIR Strips provide benefit to horses with upper airway diseases. However, numerous people have used FLAIR Strips on horses affected with laryngeal hemiplegia or “roarers” (both before and after surgery) and say that their horse breathes easier and makes less noise. This makes sense asFLAIR Strips have been proven to improve airflow dynamics through the upper airway in normal horses.
Clinical studies have not been conducted to objectively prove FLAIR Strips provide benefit to horses with lower airway disease such as COPD. However, many horsemen using FLAIR Strips report that horses that are heavy or have lower airway disease are more relaxed and breathe easier when using FLAIR Strips. This makes sense since in many lower airway diseases the elasticity of the lungs and the ability to draw air in is reduced. By reducing upper airway resistance, less effort is required to move air through the nasal passages into the lungs so compromised lungs have an easier time drawing air in.
FLAIR Strips are available through veterinarians, tack stores, catalogues and online through veterinarian/equine supply companies. Click here for a list of retailers.
Questions about the use of FLAIR Strips should be directed to the organization governing the event, discipline or venue as rules change periodically. The following is a sample of organizations that have approved the use of FLAIR Strips:
Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI)
USA Equestrian (formerly American Horse Shows Association, AHSA)
National Reining Horse Association (NRHA)
United States Combined Training Association (USCTA)
United States Equestrian Team (USET)
United States Polo Association (USPA)
National Barrel Horse Association (NBHA)
American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA)
FLAIR Strips have also been approved for flat and harness racing in all states and provinces in North America.
- Ability – Horses competing at lower levels may not be as athletic as those competing at higher levels. For example, this means a canter for a horse at a lower competitive level is harder work than for a horse at a higher competitive level at the same speed of canter.
- Fitness – Horses competing at lower levels may not be as fit as those competing at higher levels of competition. A less fit horse will have to work harder at the same speed of exercise as a fit horse would and will also take longer to recover afterwards.
- Health – Horses competing at higher levels of competition are often seen regularly by veterinarians. This means that low-grade disease is picked up early and treated. Horses at lower levels of competition typically are seen less frequently by veterinarians and as a result may often be trained and compete with undetected low-grade disease of the respiratory system.
- Exercise stress –Imagine yourself trying to keep up in a race with an Olympic marathon runner or Olympic sprinter. They would be working hard but going much faster and performing more efficiently than you, whereas you would probably be working much harder but going much slower and not performing as well.
Anytime they are undertaking hard work or prolonged exercise or competition. So, if you are going to give your horse a hard training gallop or compete in an event, using a FLAIR Strip will allow your horse to compete with less stress on the respiratory system. This will allow more oxygen to be delivered to the muscles, reduce likelihood of undetected lung bleeding, prolong onset of fatigue and provide a swifter recovery after exercise. Horses that are less fatigued are also less likely to make mistakes, such as fences being knocked down, falls or injury.