Keeping Dust To A Minimum On Horse Properties and Farms
This year has been a very dry year for Eastern Pennsylvania. With a lack of rain, comes dust on farms and horse properties. Some may think that dust is common when it comes to horses and we just have to learn to put up with it.
Not so. Dust can be hazardous to both human and animal health. Believe it or not, dust is actually more susceptible to the the damage it can cause than horses and livestock. They have much bigger lungs than humans.
A study had been done in 2006, which showed that riding instructors had a higher incidence of respiratory infection than the general public, simply from working out in the dust. This proves one thing: that the dust while working with horses in harmful to your respiratory system as well as theirs.
There are ways that the dust can be kept down to a minimum. Start out by using the footing with the least amount of dust. Coarse washed sand is best to use mixed in with shredded tires, shredded tennis shoes fiber products or crushed wood. All arena footing should be watered to cut down the dust, but if using finer sand, it will require watering more often in order to keep down the dust. The sand particles should not be too crushed or broken down, which will help reduce the dust.
Some ways to avoid dust as a rider are to:
- Try to ride where you know the arena footing is cared for and will be watered down consistently.
- Ride during the morning hours when it is still cool and there is moisture on the footing. Footing tends to dry out during the day as it warms up.
- Consider wearing a mask when cleaning stalls.
The footing in the arena should be worked on on a regular basis. It should be watered regularly, adding sand and working it in consistently. Unless you want to start from scratch, it is an ongoing process.
The other parts of the horse property can also have dust. Dusty conditions can cause a list of equine diseases such as a persistent cough, heaves (the human equivalent of asthma), and pneumonia.
Inside the barn, dust can come from bedding, dirt floors, aisleways, paddocks and hay. It is important to have good ventilation within the barn. The barn should not be closed up tight, which can be a breeding ground for respiratory diseases.
So what are the options to cut down dust within the stable?
- Keep horses outdoors while cleaning stalls, sweeping aisles or stacking hay. Bring the horses back in after the dust has dissipated, usually a minimum of 30-60 minutes after sweeping or stall cleaning.
- If possible, store hay in a separate building. Storing hay in lofts over the stalls is particularly dusty.
- Keep the indoor arena separate from the barn. This will prevent the dust from the arena footing from going into the stabling area.
- An all weather surface would be a good idea for paddocks, such as crushed stone which will drain and keep the area mud-free during the wet conditions and less dust during the dry conditions.
- Allow for constant ventilation in the barn by bringing in as much fresh air as possible. This includes keeping windows and doors open, as well as eaves and vents, even during the winter months. It is important to allow stale air to escape year-round.
- It is difficult to cut down the dust from the footing in the arenas completely. Adding shredded rubber, wood chips to coarse sand and watering it down consistently will cut down the dust considerably.
- If using bedding in stalls, opt for the less dusty type, such as the pelleted bedding, which comes bagged.
Remember, dust can be hazardous to both human and animal health. the more you can cut down the dust around the horse property and farm, the healthier and happier everyone will be.
Brigita McKelvie is a REALTOR® (Pennsylvania License #RS297130) with Cindy Stys Equestrian & Country Properties, specializing in rural and horse properties and farms in Eastern Pennsylvania. She has an e-Pro® (Certified Internet Expert) certification and a GRI (Graduate, REALTOR® Institute) designation.
Brigita McKelvie, REALTOR
Pennsylvania License #RS297130
Rural and Horse Properties and Farms
Cindy Stys Equestrian & Country Properties, Ltd.
The Premier Equine and Country Real Estate firm serving Eastern Pennsylvania from back yard operations to world class equestrian facilities.
Use a REALTOR with "horse sense" that doesn't horse around when it comes to horse properties.