14/04/2022

Show Horse or Eventer: Haygain Can Help!

By Kim Miller  | Equestrian Writer

Hannah Horton's Advanced level eventer It's Lush and the many winning show horses she campaigns don't have much in common when it comes to the respiratory demands of their jobs. Cross-country success requires peak respiratory function from the start box to the finish line, whereas the pleasure show horse maintains a more leisurely pace.

At Team Horton, however, peak respiratory function is a priority for all the horses on their yard near Newbury. As a lifelong horsewoman and British Horse Society II professional, Helen Horton heads a family business noted for extensive show ring success. She describes Haygain as “extremely valuable” to their horses and to the family’s ability to provide top care with a relatively small staff.


Haygain first came to the attention of Team Horton when a High Temperature Hay Steamer came along with a new eventing horse. “We started out using it just for that horse,” explains Helen. “When we saw that it was extremely useful, we started using it for all of our horses.”

Steaming Beats Soaking

The Hortons had been soaking their hay to dampen down dust particles present even in forage of good nutrient content. Before Haygain High Temperature Steaming was developed in conjunction with the Royal Agricultural University, soaking was the conventional method for reducing respirable irritants in hay.


However, soaking hay depletes nutrients, the taste and texture are unappetizing to many horses and it’s a labor-intensive, water-wasting mess. The Hortons manage an average of 26 horses, with another 8 youngsters in the field. The time-consuming process of soaking was challenging for their small team.


The full-bale Hay Steamer they inherited cycles three times a day to keep all their horses on clean, appetizing forage. Respiratory irritants are the main cause of respiratory disease that affects a surprisingly high percentage of active sport horses: over 80 percent, and many without obvious symptoms. Veterinarians worldwide are increasingly encouraging owners to reduce these irritants in their horses’ environment, and the biggest source of them is hay. Haygain steaming reduces up to 99% of the dust, mould, bacteria, and other allergens that comprise respirable dust in hay.

“It’s good for their wind,” Helen reports. “Obviously if a horse is coughing in the show ring, they need to be looked at. There’s something wrong with them.” Unlike people, horses generally don’t cough just to clear their throat. Even a sporadic cough can indicate early signs of inflammation that can compromise the inflow of oxygen and its transfer from the lungs to the bloodstream, as well as the exhalation of carbon dioxide.


Scientific research is a Haygain hallmark and one of many studies demonstrating Haygain’s benefits establishes that horses prefer Steamed Hay to dry or soaked counterparts. “Our horses like it because it’s warm,” Helen shares. “They eat it all up. A lot of our horses are on loose hay and the steamed hay doesn’t get spread all over their boxes and wasted.”

Minimal Nutrient Loss

Another advantage of steaming over soaking hay is that Haygain’s patented steaming process does not deplete nutrients. The one nutrient that is decreased, slightly, is water soluble carbohydrates. Helen likes that, especially for her good-doer ponies who need to watch their weight and sugar intake.

Team Horton’s horses are forces to be reckoned with in multiple divisions on the show horse circuit. At last year’s Longines Royal International Horse Show, Hannah rode stars to Champion and Reserve Champion in the Riding Horse division and top 10 finishes in Ladies Side Saddle and Middleweight Hunters. The family has high hopes for a return engagement at the Royal this July, along with the Horse of the Year Champs, concurrent with Hannah’s Advanced level quest in eventing.

“Our Haygain is extremely valuable to us and is a massive part to helping us keep all the horses in peak health and shape for their job,” Helen summarizes. With the show season fully underway, Team Horton’s Haygain-powered horses are poised to rack up more ribbons this year.

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