normal and overbreathing nostrils


"Why does my horse breathe loud, fast, heavy, noisy (or similar)?" Horse owners frequently recognise that their horse is not breathing normally. Below are answers to this and other FAQs about horses' breathing, and the connection between breathing and health / ill health (symptoms). This information is not a substitute for veterinary care.

Why is my horse breathing loud and heavy / hard /fast / shallow / rapid / noisy / laboured ?
These are all signs that the horse chronically over breathes. Over breathing lowers carbon dioxide levels and this causes the airways to constrict which makes the breathing noisy and more difficult.   more...
Chronic over breathing is quite common in horses as it is in people.
Over breathing is where more air is taken into the lungs than normal.
Over breathing may not be obvious when the horse is at rest. But if a horse is over breathing the nostrils move with each in and out breath.   more...
Over breathing has a direct, damaging and fundamental effect on the physiology and can eventually give rise to a wide range of symptoms. These include symptoms such as sweet-itch, windsucking and lack of energy which are not generally thought of as being related to breathing.
Over breathing becomes more obvious when the horse is active or worked, with loud, heavy or even difficult breathing. The over breathing horse may take a long time to recover after exercise.
The horse may show a lack of energy or alternate between high energy adrenalised behaviour and lethargy.
Over breathing becomes more obvious in warm or hot conditions.   more...   Extreme cold may increase breathing.
Horses that over breathe may show all sorts of behavioural problems such as anxiety, excitability, nervousness, irritability, aggression, windsucking, weaving, box walking etc

Heavy or fast breathing may be a sign of pain - check with your vet.

Why does my horse get out (short) of breath?
It's likely s/he is over breathing. Horses that over-breathe don't get enough oxygen. This is because the body needs carbon dioxide to enable it to use oxygen but over breathing reduces carbon dioxide levels.
To get more oxygen the horse needs to reduce its breathing in order to improve carbon dioxide levels. But over breathing is linked to adrenaline production in a vicious cycle, the one encouraging the other. So the over breathing tends to get worse over time unless it's addressed.

My horse doesn't breathe enough
This perception may arise when a horse is over breathing so much that the lungs are stretching to capacity under normal resting conditions. The horse is then unable to increase their breathing when needed for work. Over breathing is damaging to the physiology and results in LESS oxygen being available.

Why does my horse breathe loud and heavy in hot weather?
Horses need to breathe more air through the lungs in hot conditions in order to help cool down. Breathing out a larger volume of water vapour enables the body to lose more heat. If the horse chronically over breathes, increasing the breathing still further causes the airways to constrict, making the breathing laboured and noisy.   more...

How do I know if my horse is over breathing?
If your horse has chronic symptoms then it is likely that they over breathe. If they do not have symptoms there are certain signs that indicate over breathing, including the shape and performance of the nostrils. more...

What should my horses breathing be like?
In a word IMPERCEPTIBLE (at rest). There is no movement of the nostrils and no sound. more...

The idea that Equine Breathing can help horses sounds ridiculous - why should I try it?
How can breathing affect symptoms like sweet-itch or headshaking?

Horses with symptoms over breathe. Many people do not realise that over breathing has a direct and damaging effect on the physiology which can eventually manifest in any of a wide a range of symptoms.
If you don't believe this you can give yourself symptoms in a minute or so just by over breathing! Simply take very big rapid breaths until you feel the effects. Remember to breathe gently afterwards to reverse the effects.
It's a good idea to try Equine Breathing because it costs nothing using the free instructions for 1N and most people report significant improvement fairly quickly. So you should soon be able to see if it works for you.

Why do horses over breathe?
The short answer is physiological and or psychological stress. Stress causes an increase in adrenaline production and adrenaline causes the breathing to increase. In health the breathing would naturally return to normal when adrenaline production drops. If adrenaline production is prolonged or continuous the breathing is not able to return to normal and over breathing becomes chronic. more....

Why does my horse lack energy (is lethargic)?
Over breathing has a direct, damaging and fundamental effect on the physiology. One effect is reduced oxygen availability because over breathing reduces carbon dioxide levels which reduces the uptake of oxygen and its transport (blood circulation). If oxygen is not available cells have to go into anaerobic respiration which provides only a tiny fraction of the energy produced when oxygen is available - hence low energy levels and lethargy.

How can Equine Breathing help skin problems like sweet itch?
Horses with symptoms over breathe. Over breathing has a direct, damaging and fundamental effect on the physiology and can eventually give rise to a wide range of symptoms including sweet-itch. The damage caused by over breathing is reversible so if the breathing is trained back down towards normal by Equine Breathing the physiology recovers and the symptoms fade away.

My horse has COPD - what can I do to help?
Owners report good success with COPD (see video).
It's easy to try Equine Breathing using the free instructions for 1N.
Improving (reducing) the breathing helps the horse to breathe more easily and get more oxygen and it reduces adrenaline production so it's soothing for them.

How soon will my horse stop head shaking (itching, coughing, wheezing etc)?
Every horse is different so there is no set time but if you do 1N for 30 minutes a day for a week I would expect you to see a noticeable improvement. People commonly report an immediate reduction in itching in sweet-itch cases but it may take a year or more for the skin to fully recover to a normal state. Similar patterns tend to occur with other symptoms.

Why does my horse yawn / snort excessively?
Over breathing can often result in the horse yawning or snorting repeatedly. Over breathing is damaging to the physiology and can result in symptoms, so if your horse yawns or snorts excessively it's a good idea to reverse the over breathing by doing Equine Breathing.

What is Equine Breathing?
Equine Breathing is simply a way of training breathing back towards normal levels. It enables owners to help their horse recover from chronic ailments and behavioural problems. Equine Breathing is natural and holistic. It is not a veterinary procedure and anyone can do it using the free instructions for the basic technique of 1N. Equine Breathing is soothing and relaxing and horses enjoy it. watch video

How does Equine Breathing work?
A common problem in horses (and people) is chronic over breathing. It is damaging to the physiology and can result in chronic symptoms.
Equine Breathing works by training the over breathing back towards normal levels. The damaging effects of over breathing on the physiology are reversible. As the breathing is improved, the physiology improves and the body heals itself.
This is called holistic healing and this process is completely different from using procedures or drugs to address specific symptoms.

How much does it cost to do Equine Breathing?
It costs absolutely nothing to do Equine Breathing using the 1N method. It's easy to learn from the free instructions.
If you find that 1N benefits your horse but you don't have time to do as much as you and your horse would like, then you can buy a Breather for a more powerful and efficient effect. These come with their own training DVD.

How do I find an Equine Breathing Trainer to help me?
It's not usually necessary to get help from an Equine Breathing Trainer. Most people can do Equine Breathing using the free instructions for 1N and then if they would like more help there's a video and a guide on 1N.
Those then wanting a more efficient and effective method can buy a Breather - all designs come with their own training DVDs. There's also a range of courses available and Clare is always happy to answer queries and provide support to anyone using or thinking of trying Equine Breathing.