Growing and Using Herbs for Horses

Unfortunately, grazing for domesticated horses is usually limited and they are often completely dependent upon you to provide their needs.

Horses are herbivores and designed to forage freely on a variety of herbs and grasses and browse on bushes and trees.

In the wild, they will roam the land and graze on a large variety of plants (including many medicinal plants) for about 20 hours a day, covering an average of 30–40 km.

In some countries, the paddocks have a wide variety of herbs to graze on and their hay has a wide variety of dried herbs — other places aren’t so lucky. If your horses are on smaller acreage or limited pasture, then you may like to consider growing some herbs to feed them.

Mother, son and horse
Herbal remedies, body work, energy work and iridology for your horse.

Why grow herbs at home?

When you grow your own herbs, (rather than buying them) you can control the quality of the herbs. You can grow them in good quality soil and make sure that the herbs aren’t sprayed with pesticides or irradiated. Herbs picked straight from your herb garden are fresh when they are in season. Not only is it more economical (once the herbs are established) but there is also a satisfaction in growing the herbs and knowing that you are feeding only the very best quality to your horses.

Some medicinal herbs that are easy to grow –

Aloe Vera (not for grazing on)

Calendula

Chickweed

Comfrey

Dandelion

Echinacea

Garlic

Ginger

Gotu Kola

Marshmallow

Milk Thistle

Mullein

Peppermint

Plantain

Rosemary

Self Heal

Wormwood

Yarrow

Ideas for Growing Herbs in Containers:

Many herbs are very hardy and will spread and take over a garden. With these herbs, you can use pots or containers — old baths, laundry troughs etc to stop them spreading.

Grow your herbs in a place where they will be regularly watered and where you will remember to use them such as near the stables. I will grow mine near the laundry as that it where I make up the herbal infusions (tea) to add to my horses’ feeds.

Use nice rich soil and natural fertilizers or composting tea.

If you have good quality, mulched soil you won’t need to give your herbs a lot of fertilizer. Mulch also adds to the microbes in the soil.

Some herbs still grow well no matter what the soil is like. If you are enthusiastic you can make composting tea for fertilizing your herbs. Composting tea is a liquid, nutritionally rich, well-balanced, organic supplement made by steeping aged compost in water. It can be used on your plants any time of the year.

How to Make Compost Tea:

Materials:

Compost— well broken down. Yarrow and comfrey leaves added to the compost speed up the compost.

The appearance is very dark and the texture is very crumbly. You can add horse manure to the compost too, but don’t use the manure if your horses have been given a lot of chemicals for some reason.

Bucket

Water

Method:

Put a shovel full of compost into a large, old feed bucket. Fill the bucket with water. Leave it for 3 to 4 days and then use the liquid to feed the herbs.

You can also buy or make natural fertilisers such as worm castings or liquid seaweed. These can be used separately or added to the composting tea. I usually alternate between the various fertilisers, but I do tend to be a bit lazy with my herbs and they don’t get as much attention these days as they used to.

Growing herbs in a paddock:

In some situations, you may want to try and grow herbs in the paddock. Unless you have a very large property, if you plant herbs directly into a paddock the herbs are likely to be destroyed — either by overeating or by being trampled on, therefore; you may want to consider controlled grazing or feeding of herbs as needed.

Controlled grazing can come in many forms. E.g. electric tape that is removed when needed to allow the horses to graze on the herbs for a limited time or permanent fences that the horses can reach through to access the herbs. There are numerous designs. Here are a few design ideas.

Figure 1

Consider growing herbs in the corner of a paddock.

Figure 1 – This is a simple design where you can run electric tape across the corners of the paddock and remove the tape as required to let the horses graze. The corners can also be made from solid fencing, allowing the horses to reach the herbs, but not over-graze or trample on the herbs.

Figure 2

Growing herbs for horses in the center of a paddock

Figure 2 – Place taller herbs in the middle and lower growing herbs on the outside of the circle. You can use a permanent fence that allows the horses to graze on the herbs but not over-graze or trample the herbs.

Plant herbs around the outside of the paddock
Consider growing herbs around the outside of the paddock.

Figure 3

Figure 3 – If you do decide to grow your herbs in the paddock or around the edge of the paddock you will need to consider controlling invasive weeds such as Kikuyu. You will also need to make sure that the herbs have ample water and there is gate of course.

Some herbs aren’t suitable for horses to graze on, but may be useful to have in the garden such as; aloe vera.

Growing herbs can bring a lot of satisfaction for you as well as good health for your horses.

Wishing you and your horses all the very best of heath and happiness.

Fiona Adams

Equine Herbalist, Body Worker and author of Secret Herbal Recipes for Horses and The Herbal Hoof and Leg and the online course 10 Top Herbs to Grow and Use for Your Horses.

Rosemary

Rosemary with Fiona Adams

Have you got rosemary growing at home?

It’s a really useful herb to have around. Most of us don’t think about rosemary for horses.

You can cut it then dry it and make it into a powder to brush onto your horse’s coat to help repel flies, ticks and lice.

You can make it into an infusion and then a spray to also help repel insects.

Infusion 1:

Get a big jug or bowl and put the rosemary leaves in the bottom.

Pour boiling water over it, allow it to cool and that becomes the

infusion to use in the spray.

Infusion 2:

If you want it to repel flies & insects you might want to simmer the rosemary in water on the stove with some lemon that is cut up for about 30 minutes. Let it cool, strain it and make it into a spray. You can add other herbs such as wormwood when you are simmering it on the stove or afterwards you can add a few drops of essential oils to the spray such as garlic, lavender or neem oil (which has a really strong scent).

You can use the plain rosemary infusion as an antiseptic wash for cuts, grazes and skin irritations.  (Disclaimer: Natural therapies are not intended to replace veterinary advice.)

Rosemary infusion is great as a final rinse after shampooing – particularly for dark horses.

Make the infusion by simmering some rosemary in water on the stove. Let it cool.  Then sponge or pour the rosemary infusion all over your horse. It leaves a lovely, silky feel to the coat, mane and tail. You can pop a bit of apple cider vinegar in the rosemary rinse too if you want.

Rosemary has traditionally been used as a wormer. I wouldn’t rely upon that as the only form of worming but you can feed half a tablespoon of powdered rosemary leaf for a few days around the full moon.  

Rosemary is used to support circulation, so it may be useful as part of an herbal mix for founder and other circulatory problems.

You could dry use dried rosemary around the stable.  For example; if you’re storing your saddle pads or your horse rugs in some sort of container you could put dried rosemary in there to help repel the insects and to perhaps help with the mildew or mould.

It can be tied together and hung around to stables to help repel insects.
Perhaps add other insect repellent herbs such as; wormwood.

It can be made into an oil infusion for arthritis, either by itself or with other herbs such as ginger. This can be applied to affected joints.

It has anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. I have used it as part of a mix for lymphangitis. I remember one horse who grazed on the rosemary bush when she had lymphangitis.

Rosemary is useful for skin in general and to enhance hair growth. So if the mane and tail are a bit short you can add a bit of rosemary to your horses’ feed.

It grows easily in drier climates and is easy to grow around the stable.

I hope that this has motivated you to use a bit of rosemary and maybe even use it in your cooking.

Want to learn more about growing and using herbs for your horses? Join me in this course here: – https://equine.official.academy/?fbclid=IwAR0MFECV1f4J0K_DjdHrSmYxkkw43ZdQu89AMrgA4xPOQpLBLNs0DyTwTOw#!top-10-herbs-to-grow-and-use-for-your-horses/qjEaE/

Wishing you and your horses all the very best of health and happiness.  

Fiona

Apple Cider Vinegar for Horses

🍎 Apple Cider Vinegar 🍎
Are you feeding it? Do you know some of the benefits? It helps with digestion and is known as a ‘blood cleanser’. It may also be useful with arthritis and tying-up. EMS horses may benefit from it to help with insulin levels and to help them loose weight.
It may help with bacterial problems such as; thrush, seedy toe or abscesses. You can soak the hoof in water with Apple cider or use it as a spray.
It may help to repel flies,mosquitoes and lice. Use a spray externally and feed internally. It may also help with skin fungal problems such as rain scald. It thought that ACV may prevent intestinal stones.
You can put it in the wash with your rugs, saddle pad and boots to prevent fungus and to remove any detergent that may be left. It will also soften them.
It is great as a rinse after shampooing and leaves the coat, mane and tail silky soft and smooth.
1/3 cup in water and added to feed for an average sized horse.
Remember to source ACV that is unpasteurized and has the mother in it.

Testimonials

A message from a happy horse partner a day after treatment – I am already noticing a shift in Spice’s behaviour 💕 she is more energetic and she is more keen for a sniff of me 💕 Thank you so much for coming out yesterday. I learned so much!!!

A few days later..
Tonight, wow I noticed Spice’s coat is a lot softer. Even my younger boy noticed it today and said mum she is a lot cuddlier especially her neck. I also noticed her hooves weren’t as dry 💕💕💕. It’s only been a week!

A Horse Called Whiskey with Laminitis

Video summary –

Hi.

It’s Fiona and I’m talking about laminitis today. This horse’s name is Whiskey and he’s had quite laminitis now for a few weeks. He had the classical symptoms: – strong digital pulse and his hooves were hot to touch. He has been standing not stretched out, not being able to walk. He moved to the edge of the lake to cool his hooves. He was in lot of pain. I did an initial check with iridology and Chinese medicine palpation. I used Bowen and massage techniques followed with my laser on acupuncture points and locally on the laminitic hooves. The client then continued to use the laser locally and on the acupuncture points that I showed her.

When the laminitis first occurred we used fresh ginger poultices on his front feet to increase the circulation and to reduce the inflammation. My comfrey and arnica ointment was also used around the coronet band.

Whiskey was given an individual herbal ‘Signature” blend to support the recovery from laminitis as well as an herbal extract to help with pain and inflammation.

(Disclaimer: herbs and natural therapies are not to be used to replace veterinary advice)

Find me here: – https://www.facebook.com/holstichorsetherapies/

You might also like to order my books on Amazon – Secret Herbal Recipes for horses https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Herbal-Recipes-Horses-Fiona-ebook/dp/B00C9BMQPA/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=secret+herbal+recipes+for+horses&qid=1582687706&sr=8-1

and The Herbal Hoof and Leg – https://www.amazon.com/Herbal-Hoof-Leg-Adams-Fiona-ebook/dp/B01HA2YFIS/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1582687762&sr=8-1

Wishing you and your furry family all the very best of health and happiness.

Fiona

Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle. (Edited transcript below from my You Tube video)

You may have this herb growing in your paddocks or in your garden. Brilliant, brilliant herb.

Traditionally, it’s been used to support the liver and I’ve had a few clients’ horses who have had liver problems. The liver was tested, and the results had shown enzyme elevation.

In these cases, the owners’ have given the horses milk thistle for a few months. Later, when they’ve had the horses tested again, the liver enzymes have gone right back down to normal.

Milk thistle can be used to help increase the flow of milk if the mare isn’t producing enough milk.  Fenugreek can be added too.

Milk thistle supports the kidneys as well as the liver.

It also has an anti-inflammatory action – probably not one of the main herbs I would choose for inflammation, but it does have an anti-inflammatory action.

It may be useful with laminitis because it helps to get rid of the endotoxins in the laminae and in the horse’s system.

Containing several active constituents, Milk thistle protects the liver by preventing the toxins entering into the livers’ cells and also stimulates and regenerates the damaged cells and increases the glutathione (antioxidant) by about 40% in the liver.

It also increases oxygen in the blood and helps to synthesize new protein which also helps regeneration which is what we’re talking about for laminitis.

Milk thistle has been known to increase the gastric enzyme secretion so it may be useful for digestive problems.

It may also be useful for allergies because it supports the liver.

I would use milk thistle if my horse had to have drugs. Maybe it’s been on antibiotics, Bute or something else from the vet. I would then follow up with milk thistle to support the liver that’s been working really hard to process drugs.

I’d also use milk thistle after worming my horses.

Milk thistle may be useful for hormonal mares because the liver is what is affected and therefore creates the imbalance of hormones in mares so it’s worth trying a little bit of powdered milk thistle; maybe in combination with other herbs which are helpful for hormones.

In Chinese medicine the liver meridian is very important tendons and ligaments, so you could support ligaments and tendons by feeding milk thistle.

I find the ground milk thistle seeds is really easy for the horse to digest. I take the whole seed, I pop it into the coffee grinder and then I put it into a jug, jar or bowl and pour boiling hot water over it; let it cool and pop that all in the horses feed. You could use the whole seed and just pour hot water over it to soften the seed and allow it to cool before adding it all to the feed.

How much would you feed? It depends on the size of the horse and what problem the horse has or whether you are just feeding it as a general liver support.

If your horse is sensitive to things always start with a pinch of the ground seed, but for average size horse half a tablespoon may be useful.

Remember that herbs are not to be used to replace veterinary advice.

If you want to know more about herbs for horses I have the Herbal Hoof and Leg available at Amazon.com, both as an ebook and the print version.  

Secret Recipes for Horses is also available on Amazon.com in ebook and print versions.

Wishing you and your horses all the very best of health and happiness!

Fiona Adams

Burns

Yesterday I drove down to help some horses that had been burnt in the fires around Yarloop and Waroona. Just the thought of horses being burnt makes me feel sick and horrified.

These horses were the lucky ones with superficial burns that were being treated by the wonderful local vets at Murray veterinary centre.

Burns:

Burns need to be taken seriously and will need veterinary attention. Burns are usually categorized as first, second, third and fourth degree burns. First degree burns are categorized by the fact that only the top layer of the skin is affected. Second degree burns affect the deeper layers of the skin. They can be extremely painful as often the nerves as still intact.

Horse with burns to its head.

This horse was burnt in recent bush fires. It is one of the lucky ones who survived and will be fine.

Third and fourth degree burns are severe and the nerves are usually damaged.

Second degree burns usually form blisters and although it is tempting to burst the blisters it is recommended that they are left as they protect the area from infection and are usually less painful that the raw skin underneath if it is exposed. After 24 or 48 hours they can be removed and soothing anti-microbial substance can be applied.

Third and fourth degree burns are quite dangerous as they damage tissue beneath the skin. It is suggested that the burn be washed carefully with water and ice. Any dead tissue can be removed by a veterinarian. As the new skin starts to grow under the old tissue bacteria can get in.

Fluid loss is one of the major problems and usually there is protein loss through the burn sites. A veterinarian will usually give the horse fluid and often plasma to help with any protein loss.  If a lot of the body is affected by deep burns then the prognosis isn’t good.

Often a horse may appear to be doing well, but sometimes it is difficult to assess the damage and it may take three or four days for a horse to really react and show how sick they are. They may end up with renal failure or septicaemia or other complications.

Horses with burns require a lot of attention and care. They require monitoring several times a day.

Burns on a horse's hind end.

This horse has burns to the rump and hind legs.

There are natural therapies that can be used to support a horse with burns.

Arnica: Homeopathic arnica 200 c can be given immediately after the injury and every hour or so for the first day. Then once or twice a day as the horse recovers.  

When washing the area colloidal silver can be used as an antibacterial. A few drops of lavender essential oil will be helpful with its anti-bacterial properties. Lavender essential oil is also known for its ability to help with burns. The old dead skin will need to be gentle removed over a period of time as the wounds are treated.  

Aloe vera gel can be applied to the burns. It is known to relieve pain and decrease inflammation, whilst preventing bacteria and fungal activity. You can mix a few drops of lavender oil thoroughly through the gel. Often an immediate application of the gel from the leaf on a superficial burn will help greatly. If you have the fresh aloe plant, then you can use the gel from that.

Aloe vera is a wonderful remedy to use throughout the healing process as it will help to keep the skin soft and prevent that painful cracking associated with burns. If they burn is extremely painful, perhaps too painful to apply a gel, then spray a liquid aloe onto it 3 – 5 times a day to help with the healing. As the area becomes less painful to touch you can apply the gel.

You can buy commercial aloe products. Look for a pure product without a lot of chemicals. These will just irritate the burns and might prevent or slow down the healing.

Raw, natural honey can be used on the deeper burns. This is ant-bacterial and encourages healing. Be aware that bees, flies and ants may be attracted to the honey.

It is best to keep most burns open to the air unless they are very deep. Your veterinarian will advise you on this.

As the burns heal you can use rosehip oil to prevent scaring to areas of new flesh without any wounds.  

The other problem may also be smoke inhalation.  The lungs can be affected and you will need to watch for any discharge and listen for any coughing or sounds of the lungs having been affected.

If you wish you use preventative herbs to support the horses’ then herbs such a mullein and marshmallow can be added to the feed. Colloidal silver may be added and raw natural honey may also be added for its soothing and healing properties. If the horse is easy to syringe, then honey in warm water can be syringed to soothe the airways.

Feed: If the horse’s muzzle has been burnt you might need to soak its hay and make sure the feed is wet to make it easier for him to eat. The horse is often away from their usual environment and may feel stressed because of this. Rescue remedy may be used to help ease any stress. The bottle has the directions. You can buy a spray or a bottle with a dropper. This becomes the stock bottle and you put four drops from the stock bottle into another bottle with pure water. This can then be syringed or even placed on a person’s hand and gentle rubbed over the forehead or elsewhere if the horse is affected by burns on the forehead.  

Make sure the horse has a good natural mineral supplement. In some places you may be able to source a sea mineral supplement which will help support the healing of the skin. Colloidal minerals also enhance skin healing.

Consider adding silica in a colloidal form if you horse will eat it. If not then adding herbs high in silica such as horsetail (equisetum) and French white millet to the feed will help. Rosehips will support the healing of the collagen.  

I find that the love of a horses’ owner can be very therapeutic in healing so many things.

May all horses be healthy and happy!!

Colitis

I had someone ask me about Colitis yesterday. It is becoming more prevalent in certain areas.

Colitis: A natural perspective
It isn’t something I’ve come across very often, but the few cases I’ve treated have totally recovered from it.
Colitis is the inflammation of the lining of the colon. The inflammation usually occurs in the lower part of the colon but can affect the whole of the large intestine. Micro-ulcers can occur where the inflammation has destroyed the cells lining the bowel. The ulcers bleed and can produce pus and mucous. Chron’s disease is another digestive disease which is very rare in horses. It causes inflammation throughout the whole thickness of the intestinal. It produces deep ulcers. Chron’s disease usually occurs in the small intestine but can occur in the large intestine. In rare cases a horse may have both Chron’s disease and Colitis.
Causes: Colitis may be caused by a variety of things.
Diet: Excess protein and not enough roughage (hay and long grasses) is one suspected cause of some colitis.
Keep the horse’s diet as natural as possible. Feed chaff, hay and  a natural mineral supplement. It is good to have your horse on large paddocks with a variety of grasses to graze on. Check your paddock is free of any toxic grasses. It you need to add protein to your horse’s feed consider soaking or boiling oats or barley.
Medications: Antibiotics such as clindamycin and lincomycin and pain relief (NSAIDs) such Bute can cause Colitis.
Bacteria: e.g. Clostridium perfingens, Clostridium difficile
Allergic reactions, toxins and heavy metal poisoning
Stress: particularly after surgery or transport.
Parasites
Symptoms – short term: Colitis causes cramping and pain in the abdominal area. There is usually diarrhea which might or might not have blood in it. There may be dehydration, fever and chills and the horse may appear to be lethargic. A horse may also lose weight and have a decreased appetite. There may be discolouration of the conjunctivae of the horse’s eye.
Symptoms – long term: Ulcerative colitis may cause long-term problems such as arthritis, eye inflammation, liver disease, skin problems. These occur when the immune system trigger inflammation in other parts of the body.

DSC_0052
Treatment: Treatment of colitis depends on the cause.
Conventional treatment: Often your veterinarian will do a complete blood count, maybe electrolytes, kidney function and inflammatory marker tests. Sometimes a bacterial infection with disappear by itself. A vet may prescribe antibiotics in some cases. In cases that don’t respond to antibiotics then corticosteroids may be added to the treatment.
Herbal and natural treatment: Consider using some of the following herbs and supplements:
Sweet potato: ½ two times daily in feed. It is considered to be a prebiotic.
Slippery elm bark powdered: ½ a cup two times daily in feed. Add this after wetting the feed down. Some of this may be syringed as well.
Marshmallow root powder: ½ a cup two times daily in feed. Some of this may be mixed into a paste and syringed as well.
Probiotics
Fenugreek powder: 1 tablespoon daily in feed.
Wei gon ning
Aloe Vera: Find a good quality aloe Vera and give a dose of 30 – 40 ml twice daily. Warren laboratories produce and excellent product. I have seen horses improve with that product that were on other aloe products that didn’t help. It doesn’t mean it is the only effective product on the market, just one I am aware of.
Chamomile: 1 cup of flowers twice daily. This can be made into an infusion by putting it into a jug and pouring boiling hot water over it. Allow this to cool and put the whole lot in the feed.
Bowsellia: Useful to help with the diarrhea and with the inflammation. 30gm twice daily in feed.
Liquorice root powder: 1 – 2 tablespoons in feed twice daily.
Wheat grass: 1 – 2 tablespoons of juice syringed twice daily.
Turmeric: 1 tablespoon twice daily
Psyllium: ½ a cup twice daily
Gingko biloba: 10 gm twice daily
Raw natural unprocessed honey: 1 – 2 tablespoons daily
Moxibustion: Used daily around the stomach area and on the hind legs and along the stomach meridian. One study indicated that moxibustion was more effective than Sulfasalazine.
Consider acupuncture or acupressure

Homeopathy: Consider the following:
Aconite 30 c – signs of fever at the beginning.
Arnica 30 c – when the blood is bright in the stools and there are signs of colic.
Argentum nitricum 30 c – for diarrhea with mucus and blood and excessive gas.
Arsenicum album 200 c– foul smelling diarrhea, more frequent stools at night.
Mercurius corrosivus – bloody foul smelling diarrhea. Pain lingers after defecation
Phosphorus – bloody painless and profuse diarrhea.

One study done in comparing herbal medicine to prednisone found that the herbs had an 84% effective rate compare to the prednisone group that has a 60.5% success rate.

I am not saying to use herbs and natural therapies instead of conventional veterinary medicine but perhaps herbal medicine and natural therapies could be considered in conjunction with conventional veterinary medicine.

Ulcers

Ulcers: So many horses these days have ulcers. The upper gut ulcer seems to be more common, but the lower hind gut ulcers seem to take more effort to heal.

For the upper gut ulcers Aloe vera gel is the most popular. If you buy a commercial gel, check the ingredients and make sure they aren’t toxic. If you have a lot of Aloe vera, you can cut off a couple of leaves from the bottom of the plant and scoop out the gel to feed to your horse until the ulcers are healed. You can store the gel in a jar in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for longer.

Aloe Vera.

Aloe Vera is a well know and well used medicinal herb. The has been used for a myriad of external skin ailments and internally for digestive problems.

For the lower hind gut ulcers herbs such as; marshmallow, slippery elm, meadowsweet, chamomile and liquorice seem to be quite effective. I’ve seen some horses heal from gut ulcers with just eating 1/2 a sweet potato daily. Looking at the whole of the horse is important. Does your horse have a good, natural mineral supplement? Is he on a natural feed? Does he have a good, large paddock to graze on with a variety of grasses? Does he have friends to play with? Do you keep the amount of chemicals that your horse is exposed to to the minimum?