Alex Mant, assistant trainer at George Scott Racing yard in Newmarket, shares how investing in a VentTube system has transformed the health of the racehorses leading to improved performance.
“With racehorses, respiratory health is everything. They’re elite athletes and their lungs working as they should is crucial for them to run at their best.”
Alex explains the yard saw an increase in respiratory challenges in the horses having moved to a new location in autumn 2019. In the spring and summer of the following year, as the weather warmed, it became progressively more difficult to keep the stabled horses healthy.
“It’s easy to tell when racehorses are sick and our horses were underperforming. But it was tricky to get to the cause of the problem.”
She shares that the yard team investigated the respiratory health issues using endoscopic examinations. This involves putting a small tube down the horses’ throats to collect samples for testing.
The results highlighted that the horses were suffering from increased mucous in their lungs resulting in infection. As such, antibiotic and expectorant use increased significantly to help reduce the symptoms.
However, the breakthrough moment came around midsummer 2020, when the team considered that inadequate ventilation could be behind the seasonal health challenges.
“The air just didn’t flow well in there, it felt quite stagnant, almost sticky.”
After some research and a Galebreaker building ventilation consultation, the decision was made to install a VentTube system. This was tailored to the building size and the maximum number of horses which could be housed within the environment. The system enables 10 to 13 full air exchanges in an hour, which is enough to provide a continuous supply of fresh air while also serving to cool the horses down in the warmer months.
“It was important to reach the optimum balance, keeping the air as fresh as possible, but without chilling the horses, as this would lead to other problems.”
Alex shares that fitting the VentTube system was straightforward. The yard team were able to handle it themselves, knowing the Galebreaker team were on the end of the phone if needed.
It was in 2021 that the full impact of the new ventilation system was first noticed.
“When the weather warmed up in spring 2021 the difference compared to the previous year was stark. The barn felt fresh and cool, and the horses were thriving in training.”
Alex also reports a reduction in the amount of antibiotics used on the yard and in respiratory issues being investigated. This continued into 2022.
“This year the horses have been flying. There’s no reason to endoscope them because they’re perfectly healthy, and it’s fantastic to see them performing so well.”
She adds that people visiting the yard have been curious about the VentTube, but the horses have taken it in their stride.
“It looks a bit ‘space age’, so naturally people ask questions. When I explain what it’s for it makes sense to them, as the air in the barn is so fresh and clean. The horses meanwhile, have never reacted to the noise, which is consistent so just becomes part of the background, and they walk underneath it without an issue.”