Respiratory Health in Horses Is Focus of Two AAEP Presentations Dec. 7-11

Horse in a stall.
Horse in a stall. Smerikal

Newsdate: November 21, 2019, 8:00 am
Location: FRANKLIN, Tennessee

Belgian sporthorse veterinarian Dr. Emmanuelle van Erck-Westergren’s extensive research and hands-on experience make her a world leader in understanding respiratory challenges that affect a shockingly high percent of active sporthorses. Dr. van Erck-Westergren, DVM, PhD, Dip, ECEIM, will share insights with fellow veterinarians during two presentations at the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Annual Conference Dec. 7-11 in Denver.

Horse eating from a HayGain steamer.

Horse eating from a HayGain steamer

Our paper shows that ubiquitous molds, including fungi, cause chronic lower airway inflammation which is deleterious for the health and performance of our horses.
© 2008 by Louis New window.

On Dec. 9 at 12:30 p.m., Dr. van Erck-Westergren will speak on Managing Performance: From Barn to Podium. On Dec. 10, at 10 a.m, she is one of five speakers in a suite of presentations titled The Air In Here: Management of Respiratory Disease in Horses.  Fungi in Horses with Inflammatory Airway Disease is Dr. van Erck-Westergren’s topic. It is based on groundbreaking research involving 732 active sporthorses referred for performance issues or possible respiratory problems: 88% were diagnosed with IAD, and fungi was found in the respiratory tracts of the majority of those IAD cases.

“This paper highlights a major piece of the puzzle of equine airway diseases: the role of fungi,” explains Dr. Van Erck-Westergren, co-author of the study published in The Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine in December of 2018. Study Link

“In human medicine, fungi are known to cause many respiratory inflammatory conditions such as allergies, infection, asthma, etc. In equine veterinary medicine, we can find publications that relate the role of fungi in pretty nasty, potentially life-threatening diseases such as fungal pneumonia or guttural pouch mycosis, but barely anything else. Our paper shows for the first time that ubiquitous molds, including fungi, cause chronic lower airway inflammation which is deleterious for the health and performance of our horses.”

Dr. van Erck-Westergren operates an equine sports medicine practice in Waterloo, Belgium. She is a Belgian team veterinarian, a member of the FEI Equine Prohibited Substances List Expert Group, and a Board Member of International Conference on Equine Exercise Physiology.

She graduated in 1996 from the French Veterinary School of Maisons-Alfort. She trained in sports medicine at the University of Liège in Belgium, where she obtained her PhD on respiratory function testing in horses. Dr. van Erck-Westergren developed the equine sports medicine unit and consulted as senior clinician in the renowned equine lameness clinic, CIRALE, in Normandy, France.

In January 2010, she started her own ambulatory referral practice in Belgium. Her practice offers specialized service in equine internal and sports medicine throughout Europe, following national teams and international riders.

She has authored over 50 peer-reviewed scientific articles and regularly lectures at international conferences.

Respiratory Health Expert

Dr. van Erck-Westergren’s findings on respiratory health align with the AAEP conference’s theme: Ascend New Heights in Equine Practice. Recognition of the role respiratory problems play in horse health and performance is rising steadily among veterinarians and horse owners, making it a key focus now and going forward.

“Horses live and work in environmental conditions that promote chronic respiratory inflammation,” Dr. Erck-Westergren explains. “The prevalence of lower airway disease is largely underestimated because it is not always accompanied by obvious clinician signs.

“Medications treat the symptoms but not its initial cause, which often lies in the environment,” she continues “Changes in the environmental management are essential to bring long term relief.” These experience-based observations explain why Dr. van Erck-Westergren recommends Haygain Hay Steamers as a critical tool for cleaning up the stable environment. Haygain’s patented high-temperature hay steaming eliminates up to 99% of the dust, mold, fungi and bacteria found in even top-quality hay.

“They are a simple, fool-proof solution to improve our horse’s respiratory health,” Dr. van Erck-Westergren relays. “I recommend them for my patients and those owners who have adopted it really see the daily benefit it brings to their horses and would not revert to normal hay. And the horses love it.”

Visit Haygain at Booth 753

Haygain Hay Steamers will be on display in booth #753 throughout the AAEP meeting, along with Haygain’s ComfortStall Orthopedic Sealed Flooring. Because its patented layer of Precision foam provides ample cushion, ComfortStall eliminates the need for stall bedding, another major contributor to unhealthy stable air quality. Further, its wall seal installation prevents urine accumulation and seepage and the harmful ammonia off-gases that produces with traditional stall mats. ComfortStall also promotes joint health and recovery, deep, beneficial sleep and 24/7 proprioception.

Haygain is a science driven equine health company focused on respiratory, musculoskeletal and digestive health. For more information on Haygain, visit

For more information on the American Association of Equine Practitioners Conference, visit

Press release provided by   Haygain News PR Contact: Kim F Miller

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