Allergies in a dressage horse? Start steaming the hay!

Allergies in sport horses are more common than people think, and can have a negative impact on performance. Grand Prix Dressage rider Sarah Hassler, of Hassler Dressage USA, converted to steamed hay several years ago after discovering that one of her best horses, Harmony’s Davidoff Hitt, was allergic to the grass. Yes, you read that correctly-he was allergic to all kinds of grasses, and consequently he was allergic to all kinds of hay.

Kim F Miller, Equestrian Journalist

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A dressage horse allergic to grass?

The bad news is that Harmony’s Davidoff Hitt, their Grand Prix dressage horse, was allergic to the grass. The good news is that his condition led the Hassler family to discover Haygain steamers. “No hay was good enough,” recalls Sara Hassler, a rising star in the well-known dressage family.

Keeping his box meticulously clean also did not help. “We tried everything,” Sara explains. Then their veterinarian, Cooper Williams, DVM, suggested steamed hay with Haygain.

“We noticed the difference from one day to the next,” Sara recalls. “First of all, he really liked it! His skin problems were solved, and he stopped coughing so much.” This all happened about 10 years ago, shortly after Haygain’s high-temperature purification was introduced in the United States.

“Regardless of the situation, whether it is coughing or other allergic symptoms, horses have responded beautifully to Haygain Steamed hay. There is simply no better system to prevent horses from experiencing these kinds of problems.”

Haygain’s high-temperature hay purification eliminates up to 99 percent of respirable dust, mold, bacteria, and fungi found in hay, even high-quality hay. Its benefits were so obvious with Harmony’s Davidoff Hitt that the Hasslers gave the steamed hay to all their horses-even to a retired mare who lives in the pasture full time. “I provided a Haygain and asked the stable manager to feed it steamed hay.”

The Hassler program is the gold standard for dressage training, coaching and success at shows, and is equally well known for its emphasis on horse care and management. Steamed hay has thus become an integral part of maintaining the well-being of their horses, so much so that Sara is surprised when she meets horse owners who do not know the benefits of steam. “Maybe I’m a little biased,” he acknowledges. “But it upsets me when people spend so much money on their horses but know nothing about steaming hay.”

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When you consider the health benefits of steamed hay, you will never go back!

Hassler horses do not travel without Haygain. “We live between Maryland and Florida, two very high allergen locations, and finally our horses no longer have problems thanks to our Haygain,” Sara explains. “The HG600 purifier is the perfect size for traveling, so I never have to worry. When you consider all the health benefits of steamed hay, there is no going back.”

Hay purification was developed primarily to protect and improve respiratory health. With more than 80 percent of the population of active sport horses suffering from some degree of respiratory problems – often asymptomatic – Haygain has curbed or made these symptoms manageable for thousands of horses, from Olympians to beloved backyard companions. In addition to purifying, Haygain adds water to the diet, which is useful for digestive function; its good taste helps turn picky horses into great eaters!

“Our horses no longer cough and struggle to eat thanks to our Haygain.”

dressage horse

Hassler is one of the most highly regarded names in the dressage world

Head coach Scott Hassler is an internationally respected trainer, competitor and medical specialist. The latest of her many students to excel on the international stage is Sarah Lockman, winner of the 2019 Pan Am Games individual gold and U.S. team silver with First Apple. Scott competes at the highest level and has helped shape the sport through a long career on various dressage and breeding committees.

Sara Hassler is the daughter of Scott and Susanne Owen Hassler: raised with the daily teachings of two of the most successful experts in equestrian sports and dressage, after years of riding young horses, grooming and learning behind the scenes, Sarah ends up in the national spotlight by winning last fall’s Prix St. Georges Al Dressage of Devon with Boitano. Bringing Boitano back to competition after some serious injuries, the victory reflects the young professional’s abilities as a horsewoman and trainer. Their fantastic season puts them in the pipeline for international attention in the near future.

“We are known for our horse care and feeding practices, and we try to maintain as much regularity for them as possible-steam purification helps keep the hay the same quality at all times.”

Hassler Dressage ‘s show, training and sales program sees a steady influx of horses and riders. Scott and Sara enjoy introducing everyone to the Haygain purifier as the basis for healthy horse breeding.

“We are well known for our horse care and nutrition practices,” Sara notes. “People ask us questions all the time. When they see the Haygains in our stalls, we are very happy to share the benefits we have seen in our horses.”

How can Haygain help?

Haygain improves equine health through research and innovation in respiratory and digestive health. Developed by riders, for riders, Haygain understands the importance of clean forage to maintain the horse’s overall well-being. Haygain hay steamers and ComfortStall orthopedic flooring are recommended by many of the world’s leading equine riders, trainers and veterinarians in dressage and beyond.

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