I am sorry to hear that. Good news is most horses live fantastic lives! Even with COPD!
And with proper management you will never notice the difference. Only in heavy racing does this diagnosis become something that poses early retirement.So let’s start with drugs
I am not sure what drugs the vet gave you so far. But that is the best place to start. Supplements are not going to cut it, you need something that opens the airways medically. Usually it is a steroid based oral medication, and you give it prior to any vigorous work. (PM me if you want the name of the drug I used)
I found that I had to give the meds during haying and harvest (just due to the dust in the air). Although you will soon learn when the horse needs it. The fact is that the treatment is forever, you will find that you treat for a few weeks then be okay then have to treat again. The treatment is usually 2 weeks on then off and see how it goes.Things that will help are:
Stay out of arenas as much as possible, if you have to warm up do it outside on the grass (in the winter the ‘warm up’ is quite ironic). Also keep her out of the arena, if you need put a winter blanket on her when she is tied to the trailer to keep her warm (arenas are now more dangerous than being cold).
Give the meds prior to going to any location where there is likely to be dust. Don’t chance it, better to have clear airways than trying to open them after the dust hits.
No more hay bags – BURN them all!!! Hay bags allow dust to filter right into the lungs. Feed out of a large tub when on the road (so hay is off the ground).
Always feed at ground level you want plenty of ventilation and you want the horses airways to be draining easily as they feed.
Clean your trailer regularly and keep out any dust (limited use of straw or chips).
Allow the horse to lower her head in the trailer so she can drain all excess fluid.
Never tie the horse so tight she cannot lower her head to drain fluid (at ANY time). Just not so low she can step into the shank.
Pay extra for good hay! This will help a lot.
Whenever possible wet hay, never feed dry hay in a barn, trailer or area that does not have open ventilation.
I always use presoaked hay cubs when I travel. They are easy to pack, quick to wet, and no dust!Exercise
Start easy, you really want to warm up the lungs. Walk for 5-15 min before trotting or running (longer depending on trailering time). And always warm up the lungs prior to any loping.
You now want to treat her like a special Olympic level athlete. Anything she does she needs to be in Olympic level fitness. This will help her recover and maintain.
Her training will now require more warm up and cool down time, however once in shape she should be worked like another horse. Just use caution if her airway sounds ‘off’ or she coughs, stop immediately, you cannot exercise her out of it. And never push her to a point that she is breathing heavily. She can handle low and slow work, not racehorse sprinting.
If you push her to the racehorse tempo of breathing you risk her dying because he cannot get enough air.
Hope that helps!