Sunday 13 September 2020

Smoky Skies And Riding

The wildfire smoke from the south made its way up to us this weekend. Like a lot of  BC coastal communities, we’re perched between the ocean and a substantial mountain range. In normal times, that’s why we get so much rain - the clouds and air masses hang out here for a while before they continue east. In times like these, that’s why we currently have the some of the worst air quality in the world. 

Weather today = Smoke

So, I cancelled out of the clinic I was supposed to ride in all weekend. I regret losing that money, but I don’t feel like it would be a great choice for my health, let alone my horses, and that’s obviously more important than a couple of hundred dollars.

Which got me I overreacting? I know for myself it’s a no go regardless as just going out there to check the horses has me coughing and wheezing (Yay, asthma!). But what about the horses?

My google search came up with this chart: 

I couldn’t find an origin or credit for this. Further googling shows it follows the Air Quality Index chart for humans (image below), which seems reasonable.

For humans. Our current AQI is 287

Further googling found this Guidelines For Horses Exposed to Wildfire Smoke article from UC Davis. It’s well worth  a read as there is a good bit of info there and a few useful links.

Do what you will with the information, but here are my take homes:

- Little research done, for now it’s reasonable to use the human AQI chart for horses
- If smoke is visible, limit exercise.
- Horses exposed to wildfire smoke should be given time off work after to the event. Can take up to 4-6 weeks to recuperate.
- Drinking more water is helpful, encourage that.
- Consider soaking hay to reduce other irritants (dust, pollen, etc in hay)

Like humans, I imagine our horse’s reactions to air quality could be a somewhat individual thing. My two seem perfectly content today. Sophie has been entertaining everyone with silly antics because she doesn’t read or care about health warnings. I see a lot of shows and events are continuing on, and I’d hope that means everyone there  is feeling great too.

Anyway, I thought the above info might be worth a share for those of us lucky enough that wanting to ride in bad air pollution is our biggest worry. 

Stay safe, everyone. Crossing fingers hard for lots of rain for all those affected by the fires. 



  1. I haven't ridden for over a week =( It's been over AQI150 most days (and I'm near the coast too). Some people are riding lightly, others not at all. I'm sure a light ride here and there probably wouldn't hurt, but it also won't hurt to take some time off (well except my mood on occasion, lol). Hopefully it will improve soon.

    1. Fingers crossed for some rain and clearing. I've got lots of friends that are going full steam ahead as far as outdoor exercise and riding but I just can't. We're close to 300 again today so I'll probably hold off riding even lightly until we've had a couple of good days. I'm lucky mine have lots of turnout so don't need me for exercise. I hope the weather clears for you soon!

  2. Sorry if we're sending more smoke your way, it really has been miserable, here in Nor Cal we're on a month of air quality over 150, and have hit more than 400 a few times too. I can be out for about 1/2 an hour, enough to take my kite, I mean horse, for a handwalk. He sure seems fine, but when it clears I'll be easing into riding (might be a tough sell to Major!) Take care!

    1. I feel so bad for everyone there! I feel lucky the worst of our issues have been a few days of smoke. Also, we're having a really weird invasion of they're covering entire buildings. Feels like we're in a weird horror movie.

  3. Hmm that is interesting regarding your horses felling fine - mostly Bridget since she's had that cough, but hey good that she is doing fine!

    Where I live the AQI is bad in a hazy way, like visibility is shit but we continue to get ocean breezes and overall no smoke smell at all. Dante seems to be in a nice pocket where the air isn't as bad as the rest of the area which is surprising. He's really been sucking down the water though which I'm glad for.