Free instructions for 1N

Equine Breathing is a way to train your horse’s breathing back towards normal, it is not a veterinary procedure. It's easy to try the basic 1N (one nostril) method yourself using these free instructions. There is also a podcast

Correct position for doing 1N
Equine Breathing

Basic instructions

Choose a safe place where you will not be disturbed at least until your horse starts to enjoy and want to do 1N

Make sure you have enough time and are not rushed

Put a head collar / halter on your horse (for the first few times)

Stand by the left hand side of your horse and face nearly the same direction

Hold the lead rope but don’t overly restrict the horse

Put your left hand over the horse’s left nostril and completely block all air flow you should feel suction and pressure on the in and out breaths. Try not to allow any leaks, move your hand to find the best position.

Keep your hand in position for 5 minutes

Correct position of hand in Equine Breathing 1N method
Equine Breathing

Move to the right side, put your right hand on the horse’s right nostril and keep it there for 5 minutes

Keep your own mouth shut and quieten your own breathing

Don’t talk to the horse

Don’t fiddle with the horse, allow them to enjoy the 1N in peace

Don’t give food or tit bits before, during or straight after the session.  However the horse can graze or eat hay before or straight after the session.


If conditions are hot it’s best to hose or sponge your horse to keep him or her cool in your 1N session.


Your horse may relax or sleep deeply in 1N sessions. Stand facing almost the same direction as them so that if they start or jump in their sleep your toes will be safe.

If and when your horse lowers their head in relaxation, don’t lean in over their heads. They may start or twitch in their sleep and knock your face.  Either crouch beside them or if this is not possible keep your body to the side of them.

Choose a safe place to do 1N sessions

Correct crouching position when horse lowers head in 1N
Equine Breathing
A normal nostril - narrow and relaxed
Equine Breathing

How much?

Do this set of 10 minutes of 1N (5 minutes each nostril) at least once and preferably 3 times a day (30 minutes). You can do the full 30 minutes in one go if this is easiest. Alternate nostrils every 5 minutes.

First thing in the morning is a good time and before and after exercise and last thing at night. Don’t do a set straight after feeding hard feed but after forage feed or hay is fine.

It’s important not to stop doing 1N as soon as symptoms disappear. Continue until the horse has recovered normal correct breathing. This may take weeks or even years.

Correct breathing is indiscernible at rest, that is, the nostrils do not move or flare as the horse breathes and the air movement is silent. The shape of the nostrils of a horse that breathes normally is narrow and slit like rather than open and round.

What to expect

1N is the mildest form of Equine Breathing and yet it can have profound and often immediate results,as well as long term results.

Many horses soon recognise the pleasant feeling associated with 1N. Reducing over breathing reduces adrenaline production and allows depleted carbon dioxide levels to start to improve. These two effects enable the horse to relax or even fall asleep.

1N is refreshing and so they will soon perk up, if you want to work them afterwards.

However, some horses, particularly those whose breathing has deteriorated, may not immediately recognise the benefits of 1N and may initially not wish to participate. This phase is usually short lived as the horse starts to feel the benefits of 1N. But if your horse is slow to appreciate 1N you can help them to full enjoyement with certain exercises. See below for details.

One eyed horse enjoying 1N
Equine Breathing
Horse initially resisting first experience of 1N
Equine Breathing

Fred's first experience of 1N

Fred here is being introduced to 1N for the first time in a demo at a busy showground - so not ideal conditions. Fred is a bit wary at first and tries to avoid my hand.

The way you manage any initial wariness or resistance is important. The best general tip is to be calmly persistent. As the horse moves around keep the hand over the nostril - without using force to restrict the horse.

If you let your hand slip off, the precious carbon dioxide that is building back up, is lost, and it takes longer for the horse to feel its pleasant effects.

It’s essential not to frighten the horse at this stage as Equine Breathing must always be an enjoyable experience for horse and owner.


After a few minutes Fred realised he could just let go and enjoy the 1N but some horses need a bit more help.

Horse slow to appreciate 1N?

There are two possible reasons  a horse might find it difficult to enjoy 1N. One is physiological – their physiology is stuck in an equilibrium so the body resists change that might temporarily destabilise it - even though it's for the better.

The second is that some horses for various reasons find it difficult to relax. This may be exacerbated if the horse feels the need to look after others and is therefore worried about letting go and going “off duty”. 

In the first case the 1N can be done super gently (Soft Start 1N) to make the changes to the physiology small and manageable.

In both cases the Respond and Reward, Control of Movement exercises are simple to do and can be surprisingly effective in letting the horse feel it's ok to let go and relax. They involve asking the horse for a simple specific movement using body language or gentle pressure on the lead rope and releasing the instant the horse responds, then following with a rest. Calmly controlling movement in this way persuades the horse that the handler is willing and able to take responsibility, so that the horse can chill or even sleep if they wish.

Control of movement exercises can be done using positive reinforcement if you prefer; so long as your horse is completely relaxed with food rewards, and the rewards are natural forage food that will not stimulate an increase in breathing.

Many horses immediately enjoy 1N but for horses that find relaxation difficult, gaining relaxation with Control of Movement exercises before starting 1N and if the horse fidgets during 1N is usually helpful for the first few sessions.

More on Soft Start 1N and Control of Movement exercises under 'Horse not getting it? on the How to do it page'


Horse relaxing with head down in first experience of 1N
Equine Breathing
Horse yawning in 1N
Equine Breathing


Probably the most common initial responses are signs of relaxation such as sleeping and yawning (as demonstrated by Fred here); but also snorting, sneezing, coughing and tickling in the nose. The horse may wish to rub its nose due to the tickling. The nose may drip or even stream. One nostril may be blocked early on. 

With a regular 1N program at some point I expect the symptoms to diminish. How long this takes is very variable according to the individual.

If you do sufficient 1N you may also see healing responses such “Return of symptoms” which are well known in holistic healing. These returns are usually subtly different from the original symptom and don’t seem to bother the horse in the same way,

Another healing response, known as ‘clearing’ is thought to occur when the rate of healing is higher than the excretory systems can cope with. As in humans they include a runny nose, itchiness, diarrhoea, lack of appetite, increased thirst, or rashes. Clearings often pass quite quickly, sometimes in a few minutes and so may easily be missed but if they become a nuisance, or if your horse declines 1N, wait for a day or so until the body has caught up with the healing process, before resuming 1N. Consult your vet if in any doubt.


Un-refined sea salt

You may not see any of these healing responses but in any case it’s a good idea to provide some unrefined sea salt to facilitate the healing process.

Horses often go through phases of wanting unrefined salt as their breathing changes.

Unrefined salt is grey in colour and is available online. It’s clearly marked as containing the original proportion of minerals and trace elements such as magnesium and potassium.

When you start Equine Breathing I suggest offering unrefined salt daily in a bucket so your horse can take as much as they need. This can be unpredictable and variable from day to day so best to give them the choice

Two kinds of unrefined seasalt

Videos and more help

For videos go to How to do it

Article on Control of Movement and Soft Start 1N

If you have any questions or would like some help don't hesitate to ask

Email Clare