Exercise helps equine athletes and lets them perform to

Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage
(EIPH), commonly referred to as “bleeding,” is an unfortunate complication that
more than 80% of racehorses experience, according to the American Veterinary
Medical Association (Barrel Horse News 1). During strenuous workouts blood
vessels in the lungs rupture which makes breathing difficult and causes panic
for both the horse. Using the synthetic drug Lasix, is
effective in preventing bleeding and long-term complications that can result
from EIPH (Barrel Horse News 2). Although there is controversy surrounding the use
of Lasix, it is, in the long-run, an effective and beneficial treatment for
horses who are put in a high anxiety situation that could cause pulmonary
bleeding. Lasix is used to decrease the likelihood that a horse will bleed and
helps equine athletes and lets them perform to the best of their ability.

The majority of racehorses
will bleed during their career and up to 90% bleed regularly.   According to Kenneth W. Hinchcliff, BVSc,
PhD, Dipl, ACVIM, the severity of bleeding in horses is graded from zero to
four. (Larsen
2).  At a
level zero, scoping a horse’s lungs shows no blood. At levels one, two, and three the amount of blood in the lungs increases and at a level four bleeding is
so severe that blood will come out of a horse’s nose. Visible blood from the
nose is called, epistaxis (Somerset Racing 2). Horses
that bleed at a level one or less perform as well as horses that have no trace
of blood in their lungs. If bleeding is at a
level two or higher, a horse’s performance
is impacted negatively. Horses with severe
bleeding are likely to be in pain and have the feeling of drowning from their
lungs filling up with blood. Treating a horse that bleeds is the humane thing
to do. It is the owner’s responsibility to treat the horse because animals are
incapable of treating themselves. A horse owner should not continue to run a
horse with EIPH without treating them.

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Bleeding from the nostrils
after intense exercise decreases a horse’s performance and the damage builds up
over time. The longer a horse is allowed to bleed, the more IPH cumulatively
damages lungs and then the severity and incidence of bleeding increases (Barrel
Horse News 2). At the very least EIPH is uncomfortable and
distressing to horses, and at worst, it can be fatal. Although uncommon,
sudden death is a real and dangerous outcome of EIPH.  In 1996 shortly after leaving the starting
gate a horse collapsed and dies. Two fractured cervical vertebrae were found on
necropsy but the real cause of death was identified when the horses lungs were
discovered filled with blood.  In 1988 a
study shows nine different cases of of horses suddenly dying due to EIPH. EIPH
is dangerous for a horse’s health and it presents a risk for the jockeys and
exercise riders that mount affected animals each day. 

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