Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is also known as ‘heaves’ and ‘broken wind’. COPD is usually caused by hypersensitivity to mould spores found in the horses' environment or other allergens. The spores penetrate the defences of the upper airways and reach the small airways in the lungs.

The signs of COPD are variable depending on the severity of the disease. Clinical symptoms in more severe cases include; chronic cough, dyspnoea (shortness of breath), tachypnoea (abnormally rapid breathing or respiration), exercise intolerance, increased respiratory effort, wheezing on auscultation, nasal discharge, low blood gas oxygen and heave line (over developed abdomen muscles).

The clinical signs of COPD arise due to the responses of the respiratory tract to challenge allergens (allergy inducing particles). These responses take three main forms; inflammation of the airway walls, excess mucus production and bronchospasm (narrowing of the airways due to contraction of the muscles in their walls). The net effect of these processes is a narrowing of the airways and reduced capacity for airflow.

Can Equissage help?

Yes it definitely can.

The horse's lungs react to an irritant and the subsequent (allergic) reaction results in histamines being released causing the bronchiolar muscles to constrict i.e. go into spasm (bronchospasm); continued exposure to the allergen results in inflammation of the airways which in turn narrows the airways making it even more difficult for the horse to breathe efficiently. Although using Equissage cannot prevent or actually cure an allergy, it can certainly help to reduce the effects on the horse and its respiratory tract.

In the symptomatic horse the mucus needs clearing as quickly as possible to help reduce coughing (and further lung damage) and the airways need opening up. So the muscles around the bronchioles need relaxing to allow this to happen, thus enabling the horse to breathe more freely and the mucus needs thinning to facilitate its effective removal. Veterinary treatment usually involves the use of a bronchodilators (such as clenbuterol) to sooth and relax muscles as well as opening the airways - Equissage is proven to relax muscles so is the ideal tool to help the horse over its immediate allergic reaction. The improvement in circulation that Equissage promotes coupled with the increase in bodily temperature helps to thin the mucus so it can be more readily eliminated.


Equissage should be used on a daily basis as part of the management routine for COPD. Additional use of the Hand Unit will optimise the benefits particularly for horses where the spasms have been more severe. Normally the Hand Unit is best kept in situ but in this case it needs to be worked along the whole of the underside of the neck from chest to jowl. Do not hold it directly on the windpipe, but just to the side and do not hold it on the jaw bone. The Pad can be on a No.5/No.6 setting although the Hand Unit should be lower - certainly initially - as the vibratory effect may cause discomfort or alarm to more sensitive horses; if the horse is happy, then turn it up. Use of the Hand Unit is best prior to exercise if possible.

Point to Note:

A horse will always remain sensitive so the moment it is exposed to the offending allergens, it will have a reaction.