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Media Critique: Advanced Equine Studies – The Horse’s Respiratory System

This video series is riveting.

By Beth Hyman

October 10, 2014   


 October 2014 issue of Horse Journal.

Most of us, in our lives, have had a teacher that touched us. They brought tough subjects to light with skill, wit and enthusiasm.  Dr. Melissa Mazan is one of those teachers.

It doesn’t matter if she discusses the most simple elements of how a horse utilizes energy through mitochondria or if she explained the complex testing of lung function with forced oscillatory mechanics, it is riveting. I would gladly take a seat in her classroom!  

Dr. Mazan is director of the Equine Sports Medicine program at The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in Massachusetts. And, as if that weren't impressive enough, the DVD brings in even more expertise:

    John Blackburn, of Blackburn Architects (Washington D.C.), discusses barn planning and building to create optimal environments for horse health. He walks us through a dream barn and explains the use of physics principles to create a perfect environment. How a barn is placed and the design of the structure can seriously impact horse health. Most of us will never see, let alone build, a barn like that, but it does provide interesting information on building practices and how they have developed into an art form.

    Equine nutrition expert and author Karen Briggs explains how feed can effect horses and shows ways to manage airway irritants. She discusses the degree to which different types of feed can contribute to airway problems is broken down.

     Abigail Nemec, Director of Equine Studies at Post University, provides a more informal segment called Horse Chat between the classroom segments with Dr. Mazan.  She covers everything from taking a horse’s respiratory rate to how horses scent. Most of these are fairly short and give the viewer a chance to process the classroom pieces.

The three videos (total of about six hours) bring to life the way a horse breathes and performs. This series introduces the equine airway anatomy, and the viewer sees how it works and why it works the way it does. Anatomy and physiology play key roles in the equine athlete’s ability to process massive amounts of air while exercising.

You see standing endoscopy and a bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL). The imaging allows the viewer to have a front-row seat to airway dysfunction, watching a horse on a treadmill. Dr. Mazan explains how different types of disease impede a horse’s ability to perform. She continues to discuss infectious diseases and how they present. Diseases are thoroughly discussed, including how Dr. Mazan differentiates one from the other and how they should be managed. This is information any owner or barn manager should know.

The amount of information could be overwhelming for some, but the format does an excellent job breaking it down.  A visit to and taking a quick look at the glossary of terms is useful. I come from a veterinary background and did not find issue with any of the DVDs and the terminology used.

Bottom Line: I highly recommend this series to anyone that would like to get to know more about the horse and how they are an incredibly designed creature when it comes to breathing. Don’t be put off by the length! The 6 hours fly, as you are held captive by the engaging Dr. Mazan. This series can increase your knowledge and can take you inside the horse to show you how they work. Most of all this series can help when you are dealing with horses that have some type of airway disease. I can see these DVDs becoming a must have in every horse person’s library. I cannot wait for the next product from Advanced Equine Studies.

Best Suited For: The serious horseman, who wants to thoroughly understand how their horse’s body works.

You’ll Be Disappointed If:  You expect to be able to take over your horse’s respiratory veterinary care without the help of your vet.

Respiratory System DVD is $59.95, from Advanced Equine Studies, Mouse Hole Farm Productions.

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