Hypoallergenic horses?

A study suggests that the Bashkir Curly breed may be a good choice for people who are allergic to horses.

The Bashkir Curly breed may be the ideal choice for people who are allergic to horses, according to a new study from Germany.

Bashkir Curly horses, who carry a gene that produces a distinctive wavy coat, are commonly thought to be hypo-allergenic. To see whether this is true, researchers at the University Children’s Hospital Charité in Berlin and Private Medical Practice for Pneumology in Klappholz recruited 40 riders who had documented allergies to horses.

Initially, the researchers performed skin-prick tests on the riders to introduce dander from Bashkir Curly horses as well as from horses of a variety of other breeds. They found that the Bashkir Curly dander caused significantly weaker reactions in the riders than did dander from the other breeds.

The researchers then followed the riders for three years, periodically testing airflow in their lower and nasal airways after exposure to Curly horses. They found that 37 of the riders showed no signs of allergic reactions, and the three who did responded well to a single dose of inhaled medication and required no additional intervention despite continued exposure to the Curly horses.

In addition, the researchers found that the allergic reactions to flat-coated horses decreased in some of the riders over the course of the study period, suggesting exposure to Bashkir Curly horses resulted in desensitization to equine allergens in general.

Reference: “Horse allergy: Curly horses allow horse allergic riders to ride again,” Pneumologie, December 2015

This article first appeared in EQUUS issue #461, March 2016. 

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