BREATHE EASIER WITH FLAIR® EQUINE NASAL STRIPS

When horses breathe hard during exercise, the soft tissue over the nasal passage is sucked in, reducing airway diameter, restricting airflow. The spring-like action in FLAIR Strips gently supports the nasal passages to reduce soft tissue collapse and make breathing easier. 

FLAIR Strips don’t help horses breathe in more air; they help horses take in the same amount of air with less work. For example, think about the difference you feel when breathing through a stuffy nose versus when your nose is clear. When your nose is stuffy, the nasal passages are narrower, making it more difficult to breathe.

Being able to breathe easier helps horses at all levels of fitness and skill maintain respiratory health and optimum performance. Many riders also report that horses wearing FLAIR Strips are more relaxed and focused.

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without (left) and with (right) a FLAIR Strip. 

HORSES BREATHE THROUGH THEIR NOSES

Unlike humans, horses can only breathe through their nose, so even during intensive exercise, they aren’t able to breathe through their mouths. All the oxygen horses need for exercise can only come through the nasal passages (the narrowest part of the upper airway), with a significant portion unsupported by bone or cartilage. During exercise, this unsupported portion of the nasal passage collapses inward when a horse inhales, reducing the size of the airway and greatly increasing resistance to air flow.

This is significant because over 50% of resistance to air flow to the lungs comes from the nasal passages during exercise with some studies suggesting as much as 80% resistance to air flow. Additionally, pathological upper airway conditions (roaring, gurgling, nasal flutter, alar fold collapse) and functional obstructions (significant poll flexion) increases the work of breathing and makes it more difficult to move air into the lungs.

FLAIR Strips provide a spring-like force that gently supports the nasal passages and reduces soft tissue collapse which causes the narrowing of the airways during exercise. The Strips support the nasal passages including the nasal valve, which is the narrowest part of the nasal passages, to make breathing easier.

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BREATHING IMPACTS STRIDE 

FLAIR Strips can impact stride efficiency due in part to the horse’s unique synchronization or “coupling” of stride and breathing at a gallop. At a walk and trot, a horse’s respiratory rate is unrelated to its stride rate. During canter and gallop, the horse’s stride and breathing are linked: A horse takes one breath for each stride.

As shown in the illustration below, inhalation (red arrows pointing to air moving into the nose) occurs when the front legs are non-weight bearing and exhalation occurs when the front limbs are weight bearing (blue arrows pointing to air exiting the nose). 

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A simple way to think about the link between breathing and stride is to think of a galloping horse as a large bellows. As the front legs are in the non-weight bearing or “flight” phase (1-5 in the above illustration), air is being pulled into the lungs like air moving into a bellows. Once the lead front leg contacts the ground, the front legs are in the weight bearing phase (6-10 in the above illustration) and air is pushed out of the lungs.

At speeds beyond a hand gallop, a horse increases its speed by increasing stride length, not by moving its legs faster. When a horse lengthens its stride to increase speed, it also takes deeper and longer breaths, providing the lungs with more air. A horse struggling to move air in and out of the lungs may fatigue more quickly or shorten its stride to compensate for the increased work of breathing in.

FLAIR Strips can impact stride efficiency by reducing resistance through the nasal passages to help make stride lengthening and adjusting easier. 

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(photo credit: dynamicbalance.com)