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Can horses sneeze?

Hold your tissues ready!

A satisfying loud “Hatshi” is all it takes to get rid of that itch in the nose. Every rider is familiar with this. However, how do horses relieve the itch? Even horses sneeze, however they rather blow or snort than sneeze like we do.

The “hatshi” sound is probably never heard in the stables, since the sneeze of the horse cannot be compared to the humans. “Horses don’t sneeze due to reflex like humans do,” explains Dr. Andreas Faulstich from the veterinarian clinic for horses Seeburg, Dallgow-Döberitz, Germany. That is also why they don’t make weird loud sounds. However, the horses are still able to blow out air out of the nostrils. They do this in a controlled and deliberate manner. So, the next time your horse snorts air out of their nostrils, it may be because something was tickling him in the nose. In other words blowing, snorting or sneezing is a natural response to an irritant (usually dust or plant material) in contact with the sensitive membranes of the nasal passages. Dust from different feeds, hay dust and blowing dust or smoke often cause nasal irritation and sneezing.

However, an occasional, brief bout of blowing or snorting (lasting less than a minute) is a common behavior and is often also an indicator of pleasure in horses.

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