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Basic Herbal Treatments for Horses:
||In the natural environment horses would pick around pastures and in the hedgerows for a balanced diet. Unfortunately pastures today have been subjected to weed killers and chemical sprays that remove some of the beneficial herbs and plants that the horse might choose to eat. Alternative medicines are now being re-introduced into our modern medical world and the benefits of certain herbs for horses have been recognised. Treating large and sensitive animals such as the horse with herbs can be beneficial to the pocket as well as to the animal. However, there are some herbs that are acceptable and safe for humans but would cause problems or even death if administered to horses. It is imperative to know which herbs are suitable for horses before consideration of this alternative treatment. Below is a short discussion of some of the more widely accepted herbs for treating common equine ailments.
Horses left in pastures where herbs grow wild will pick and choose the ones
their bodies instinctively know they need. Listed below alphabetically are
some of the more common herbs that grow readily in meadows and pastures in
different parts of the country. Most of these herbs can successfully be
naturalised in pastures. By adding the natural nutrients back into the diet
of your horse with the use of supplements and natural remedies you can give
your horse added immunity to cancer, arthritis, and other disease; improving
temperament and behavioural problems and eliminating digestive, skin, bone
and joint disorders.
Burdock - produces those irritating little burrs that stick to anything and
everything but is an excellent digestive aid as well as being useful for
Calendula - a yellow flowering plant more commonly known as the pot
Marigold. It is native to Egypt and the Mediterranean but can be easily
cultivated elsewhere. Not only is Calendula oil a wonderful skin healer, it
is also know for building the blood and for stress.
Chamomile - helps reduce stress and tension in the horse, it has proven to
have significant anti-stress actions as well as being anti-inflammatory and
Comfrey - is a popular pasture weed and horses with respiratory indications
will graze on it for as long as their body requires.
Dandelion - has a strong diuretic action and is rich in potassium, magnesium
and calcium. Vitamins A, B, C and D are rich in this weed and horses have
been reported actually digging their paddock in order to reach the potent
properties of the Dandelion root.
Devil's Claw: should not be given to pregnant mares.
Echinacea Purpurea - an immune boosting herb, horses that may need an immune
boosting herb will benefit from the Purple Coneflower. The beautiful purple
flowers attract butterflies as an added attraction to the pasture or
meadowland. The antiviral and anti bacterial properties of this plant
benefit animals of all species, including humans. For horses it can be used
as a prophylactic to protect them from infections such as strangles,
cystitis and urethritis. It has also been used as a post-viral treatment to
boost the immune system and help eradicate whatever bacteria or virus
remains in the horse's body.
Eyebright grows wild in the meadowlands for easy free grazing. This plant is
used extensively for conditions of the eye such as inflammation, weeping or
Golden Rod plant, solidago virgaurea is a common weed in several countries.
Digestion of the leaves and flowering tops is helpful for urinary infections
and kidney stones. It also helps digestion.
Horseradish grows wild in Eastern Europe but can be easily cultivated. This
is a powerful aid against internal parasites and can be used as a poultice,
as well, for windpuffs.
Mints are known for their digestive aid properties. There are many varieties
of mints that are easily grown and proliferate. It is used as an additive to
many horse feeds because of its relaxant actions on the digestive tract. The
oil is wonderful for diminishing flatulence and colic. Mint can also be used
to help dry up milk in nursing mares.
Mullein is another very common roadside and pasture weed that compliments
the actions of Comfrey in its expectorant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Nettle - Stinging Nettle -contact with the leaves causes stinging. It grows
throughout the world and is a rich source of Vitamin C, Iron, Sodium,
Chlorophyll, Protein and dietary fibre. It is an excellent remedy for
anaemia because of its iron and Vitamin C properties. Some horses may react
with a "nettle rash" but this rash usually disappears within 24 hours.
|Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree Oil, Melaleuca alternifolia, although not grown wild in pastures,
should not be left out of this useful list of herbal treatments. Tea Tree
Oil is available throughout the world and is highly effective for treating
minor cuts, abrasions and external parasites. When a few drops of oil are
mixed with water, the spray makes an effective Fly repellent. Tea Tree Oil
is highly effective for Rain Scald and other bacterial or fungal skin
conditions. SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN INTERNALLY!
There are many other herbs and natural growing flowers and plants which are
highly beneficial for almost any equine physical ailment. Again, it must be
stressed that there are some botanical plants that are harmful or poisonous
to horses. Some of these are:
Red Clover: a trifoliate, too much Red Clover can be toxic for horses.
Rosemary: should not be given to pregnant mares. Also, contains oil such as
thymol and camphor that if found in the blood by the Jockey Club or FEI, is
a prohibited substance.
Thyme: is another volatile oil and is prohibited by Jockey Club and FEI
rules. Should not be given to pregnant mares.
Anyone who keeps horses will benefit from knowing what plants and herbs help
to treat what ailments. It must be noted, however, that this information is
not to override advice from a Certified Veterinarian but can be safely used
to compliment any prescribed treatments.
|A Modern Horse Herbal
"A Modern Horse Herbal", Hilary Page Self, 1996, 1997, 1998, Kenilworth
Press, Great Britain.
|The Healing Herbs
"The Healing Herbs", Michael Castleman, 1995, Bantam Books, New York, NY.
|Natural Horse Care
Natural Horse Care by Pat Coleby. Explains how easy it is to keep your horse in top condition without using expensive treatments. Nutritional needs, and avoiding diseases through sound farm management are among the topics covered.