Poor Performance – Is Your Horse Affected?

“Something’s just not right. He isn’t himself.” Trying to explain your horse’s poor performance and abnormal behavior can leave you at a loss for words. Poor performance can stem from a variety of issues, and diagnosing it can be difficult for your veterinarian. However, there are a few things we know. 

Poor performance looks like lethargy, reduced stamina during riding and training, and longer recovery from workouts. Inflammatory airway disease (IAD), also known as mild to moderate equine asthma, is the second-leading cause of poor performance, behind lameness (orthopedic disease). It’s associated with airway inflammation, coughing and mucus accumulation. It has been shown to occur in up to 80 percent of 2-year-old Thoroughbreds, although it can affect horses of any age.1

“IAD is considered to be a noninfectious condition, but horses that have had infectious respiratory viruses like strangles, equine herpes virus (EHV-1) and equine influenza virus (EIV) may be more predisposed to IAD,” says Dr. Rob Keene, equine technical manager with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. 

In order to minimize the infectious causes of IAD, veterinarians often suggest vaccination. Equine influenza virus is a frequent cause of lower-airway inflammation, so it’s important that your horse is vaccinated against the most current strains. Without protection from an updated vaccine, the infectious causes of poor performance can lead to high veterinary expenses, as well as days lost in training, riding, showing and racing. In fact, veterinarians often recommend one week of rest for every day a horse has a fever of 101º F or more.

“Poor performance can be attributable to a number of conditions,” Dr. Keene says. “But we do know that using current and relevant respiratory vaccines may help to minimize the potential infectious causes of IAD, and help keep your horse performing to the best of its ability.” 

For the health of all horses, it’s important to protect your horse with an updated, effective vaccination. Take preventive action against poor performance and ask for theVetera family of vaccines.

For more information on how to protect your horse against infectious equine respiratory diseases, contact your veterinarian and visit

In January 2017, Merial became part of the Boehringer Ingelheim group. As the second largest animal health business in the world, Boehringer Ingelheim is committed to making the industry even better at improving animal health. With more than 10,000 employees worldwide, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health has products available in more than 150 markets and a global presence in 99 countries. For more information about Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, click here.

1. Holcombe SJ. Epidemiology of airway inflammation and mucus in horses, in Proceedings. Annual Convention of AAEP 2005, 1 – 5.






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