Blowing your nose after riding and finding a tissue full of arena dust is more than just icky. It’s a sign that the air in your riding space is unhealthy for both you and your horse.
If dust accumulates in your own nose during rides, your horse is almost certainly breathing in unhealthy amounts. His muzzle is closer to the ground than your head, and he’s taking much deeper breaths. Inhaling dust and other irritants can trigger recurrent airway obstruction (RAO) in horses, also known as heaves, an inflammation of the airways that can become a chronic, debilitating condition.
If you suspect that the air in your arena is unhealthy, avoid riding there until you’ve taken steps to get the dust under control. A commercial dust suppressant, or simply watering down the surface with a sprinkler or hose before you ride, can make a big difference in the amount of dust that gets kicked up. But if those measures are not enough, you may have no choice but to replace your arena footing entirely.
The interruption in your riding routine is a small price to pay in exchange for your horse’s respiratory health, as well as your own.