Bridget Balestra
Equestrian Center Manager

As I’m sure we are all aware by now, the Ferguson fire burning near Mariposa and Yosemite National Park has been burning for almost two weeks. We are so fortunate that, unlike many, we are not having to evacuate our families and our animals from our homes. That’s not to say that we and our horses are not impacted.

The smoke coupled with the extreme heat has made the air quality very poor. It made me think… if I don’t feel well after working out in the heat and breathing in the ash filled air, my horses probably don’t either.

Here are some things to keep in mind to ensure that we keep ourselves and our horses healthy. First and foremost, if you can smell smoke then you are breathing it in. Limit activity during this time, and your horse will thank you!

According to the article ‘Smoke from Wildfires and Horses’ Respiratory Health’ from Horse.com, smoke is an unhealthy combination of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, soot, hydrocarbons, and other organic substances. Smoke particulates, which are a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets in the air, can irritate horses’ eyes and respiratory tracts, and hamper their breathing.”

The horse.com article also goes on to mention keeping an eye on your horses’ breathing. If your horse develops a cough or seems to have difficulty breathing you should call your vet right away!

Another recommendation is to limit exposure but due to the way our facility is set up we can’t do much about that. All the more reason to limit exercising our horses when the smoke is visible.

If we do decide to exercise our horses, all arenas and the round pen should be watered down to limit additional air pollutants. I don’t know about you, but I feel guilty if my horses don’t get out at least every other day. Due to the unfortunate weather conditions I have come to realize that they are better off staying in their stalls than breathing in soot, hydrocarbons and other awful substances.


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