Who Nose? California Chrome’s Nasal Gear

June 20th, 2014 by Jason Hartman | 1 Comment »

medium_14030234290We don’t know about you guys, but Jason Hartman’s team has been eagerly watching California Chrome attempt to take the Triple Crown. The horse is fun to watch, and we’ve been doing just that from our various locations around the country. But we’ve noticed some flair on Chrome’s nose that has us wondering—what’s that all about?

James Chiapetta and Edward Blach are the veterinarians responsible for the equine nasal strip, an invention they came up with the help horses breathe and reduce the risk of pulmonary bleeding. California Chrome has worn the strip the last six times he’s won, including the first legs of the Triple Crown (the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes).

But the strips haven’t always been allowed. New York banned them for fear that they had the capability to enhance performance. The New York Racing Association lifted by ban before Belmont Stakes. The vets responsible for the nasal strip are pleased that the ban has been lifted—they maintain that their concern is only for the health of the horse. They’re happy to see that the industry is paying attention to the product and making an effort to understand the science behind it.

It’s been a long process—the pair met 30 years ago and became friends over a shared love of horses. They both ended up pursuing their passion by becoming equine veterinarians. They discussed the possibility of a nasal strip about 15 years into their friendship, wondering why no such thing existed.

In their practices, both men had treadmills and observed horses running up close. Their perspective on their health and respiratory systems changed when they noticed that tissue around the nasal area gets sucked in and narrows the nasal passage. This obviously makes it more difficult for horses to breath, as they only breathe through their noses while running.

When less air is taken in, more pressure is put on the lungs. This results in a greater likelihood of pulmonary bleeding. Why not fix this problem with a simple strip? In 1997, the pair began to do just that, making a prototype and getting a licensing deal.

You may have seen the strips in the 1999 Breeder’s Cup races and then again the next year in the Olympics. Still, people questioned the effectiveness. Eventually, Chiapetta and Blach moved to a different company where they focused more on manufacturing and marketing.

Marketing appeared to be key—getting people to believe that the strips were to be used to improve health and not to make a horse run faster. Since, they’ve acquired patents and are the only such business to make the nasal strips. They sell for $10.50 per strip and have been seen in the Olympics, the Kentucky Derby, and the Preakness Stakes.

Though they won’t say how much, the two acknowledge that they’re making a profit.

(photo credit: Michael Candelori Photography via photopin cc)

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