A recent study completed by researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) suggests that Flair nasal strips decrease the amount of work required for respiratory muscles in equine athletes during intense exercise, and might reduce the amount of energy required for breathing in these horses.

A Flair nasal strip is a disposable, adhesive device that is placed above the horse’s nostrils, and was designed to promote respiratory health and performance by holding nasal passages open for optimal breathing during strenuous activity. The current study was published in a recent issue of the American Journal of Veterinary Research. Past studies have been completed that examined the effectiveness of Flair on different aspects of respiratory health during exercise. Susan Holcombe, VMD, PhD, assistant professor of equine surgery at MSU and principal investigator in the study, explained how this study was different.

“The studies previously were evaluating the effect of the Flair strip on bleeding from the lungs,” she said. “We were interested in the Flair strip’s effect on the upper airway mechanics, because if Flair is supposed to be a device that dilates the nasal passages, and indeed if that happens, we expected to measure an improvement in those horses. We were simply looking at the upper airway mechanics.”

Six horses (five Standardbreds and one Thoroughbred) were exercised on a treadmill at speeds corresponding to 100% and 120% of maximal heart rate with and without application of the Flair strip. The researchers measured tracheal pressures, airflow, and heart rate, and used those measurements to calculate inspiratory and expiratory airway resistance.

They found that peak tracheal inspiratory pressure and inspiratory airway resistance were significantly less during exercise on the treadmill while wearing the Flair strips.
“I would call it a mild improvement,” Holcombe explained. “With any type of research like this, when we’re making these measurements in horses, it’s very hard to know the clinical implications, and hard to know if it helps (horses out of the clinical setting). We were able to measure an effect of that strip on horses.”

“The bottom line is the research world has found that maybe it improves the horse’s airway function; maybe it decreases bleeding. It will be interesting to see how popular this strip becomes with owners and trainers,” said Holcombe.


About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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