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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.

Herbs for Wounds

Wound care

Make sure the wound is clean and dry. This will help to 0revent infection.

Once you’ve cleaned the area, you can work with herbs in the form of salves, oils, poultices, washes, soaks, fomentations, and gels to offer relief and healing. (Herbs are not to be used to replace veterinary advice)

When using herbs for wound care, the main herbal categories to include vulnerary, styptic, antiseptic, astringent, and demulcent herbs and any herb that encourages a healthy proliferation of cells for healing of tissue and scar prevention.

Vulnerary and AntisepticVulneraries are topical healing plants. They often contain tannins, which are water-soluble constituents that weave and stitch together tissue proteins, thereby closing a wound through its tightening and contracting qualities. These herbs also assist to slow bleeding and often have an inflammatory-modulating effect that encourages a healthy healing response from the body in the reparation process.

Whether you’re working with an open or closed wound, vulnerary herbs are always useful as their medicinal constituents enhance the natural healing process.

Antiseptic herbs assist in preventing and treating the infection that’s present. Fortunately, many vulnerary herbs possess antiseptic properties as well.

Some of the most popular vulneraries in Western herbalism include Calendula (Calendula officinalis), Plantain (Plantago major), and Comfrey (Symphytum officinale).

Styptic herbs are indicated for open, bleeding wounds, as their main job is to stop excessive bleeding. This is usually done via tannins, though the styptics are usually really strong in their tannin content as well.

Although these herbs can be used in minor wounds, some plants, such as Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), can be used in acute scenarios where profuse bleeding occurs.

Shephard’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) is a popular styptic which is used both topically as well as internally. This plant has classically been used to stop hemorrhage post childbirth.

If the wound requires a trip to the vet, you can use styptic herbs to slow the flow blood flow until you receive medical care. These plants can often be used on their own to provide fast-acting results.

You can use stypics as a poultice applied directly to the wound and feed them as well if needed.

In the case of weeping and swollen wounds where puss and infection are present, drying herbs with lymphatic and astringent actions, such as Calendula (Calendula officinalis), are used to get rid of excess dampness. Where there is painful dryness and splitting or cracking of the skin, demulcent and emollient herbs are indicated, such as Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) or Plantain (Plantago lanceolata, or P. major). These herbs contain mucilage, which means they assist in coating, soothing, and reducing inflammation while hydrating multiple layers of the dermis. These work well as fomentations (poultice) which essentially a cloth soaked in an infusion of the herb and wrapped around the afflicted area.

Bandaging a wound after applying an herbal styptic

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Herbs for Your Horse’s Coat

The coat of a horse usually reflects the over-all health of a horse. Whilst massage and brushing will help stimulate the cost, true health comes from within. Making sure your horse is on a good natural diet with natural minerals and herbs will show in the coat.

The liver is a good place to start as it is the ‘detoxifier’ of the body, so feeding a liver herb such as Milk Thistle or Dandelion will help to detoxify the body. Other detoxifying herbs such as burdock, nettle, clivers and sarparilla root are known as blood cleansers and used for skin problems.

Rosehips are another herb that will enhance your horse’s coat. Calendula is also a useful herb for the coat. Natural minerals are a must.

Linseed (flaxseed), Chia or Hemp seeds can be added to the feed for the essential fatty acids.

A healthy horse's coat

Stop and Smell the Herbs

Do you stop and smell herbs? Their scents are gift. You probably know when you use an infusion with essential oils that the oils can enhance your mental, emotional and physical well being, it is the same when you smell fresh herbs. 

 When you touch them and handle them parts of the herbs are absorbed through the skin and benefit you.
Take a moment to really take in the scent of herbs as you walk past them.

Mmm.

Herbs 
Lavender
Stop and smell the herbs

Arthritis

Gotu kola is also known as the arthritis herb. It is a very easy herb to grow and 3 – 4 leaves and stalks a day in your horses feed may be useful to support your horse with arthritis.

Celery seed is a very popular herb for arthritis, but it is a diuretic herb and as you don’t want the horse to eliminate all the good minerals from his system. Celery seed is often used if there is swelling in the fetlocks due to arthritis, but often this occurs because the horse is locked in a yard or stable at night. It is usually better for an older, arthritic horse to ‘move’ and be out in the pasture where they wander and graze in between their sleeping.

Some other arthritis herbs include dandelion, ginger, linseed, millet, yarrow, kelp, rosehips, chamomile, tumerica, yucca, Apple cider vinegar or other natural mineral supplements.

My book The Herbal Hoof and Leg is available on Amazon.com

Arthritis: Gotu kola is also known as the arthritis herb. It is a very easy herb to grow and 3 – 4 leaves and stalks a day in your horses feed may be useful to support your horse with arthritis.

Celery seed is a very popular herb for arthritis, but it is a diuretic herb and as you don’t want the horse to eliminate all the good minerals from his system. Celery seed is often used if there is swelling in the fetlocks due to arthritis, but often this occurs because the horse is locked in a yard or stable at night. It is usually better for an older, arthritic horse to ‘move’ and be out in the pasture where they wander and graze in between their sleeping.

Some other arthritis herbs include dandelion, ginger, linseed, millet, yarrow, kelp, rosehips, chamomile, tumerica, yucca, Apple cider vinegar or other natural mineral supplements.

Check out my book The Herbal Hoof and Leg on Amazon.com

Horses in a paddock

Herbs for Happy Hooves

What herbs can you use to improve your horses’ hooves?

Rosehips – Feeding roseships helps to build strong hooves and help with abscesses. Rosehips contain the highest plant source of Vitamin C and numerous bioflavonoids (quercitin, rutin, hesperidin & others), mucilaginous compounds, astringent compounds and aromatic compounds, calcium, chromium, cobalt, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, selenium, Vitamin A, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine and fibre.Vitamin C is an essential nutrient most known for its ability to strengthen capillaries and connective tissue.

Linseed – Linseed (flaxseed) oil can be to painted on the hooves and crushed or boiled linseed can be added to the feed.

A good quality natural mineral supplement is a must in many areas of the world unless the soil is brilliant. Consider feeding a small amount of natural unprocessed seaweed, such a nori, which contains all the trace minerals. Perhaps a 1 cm strip cut from a strip of nori sheet given every couple of days.

Silica – is known as a mineral for strengthening hooves and improving your horses’ coat. Herbs high in silica such as clivers and millet may also be to add to the feed.

Happy Horsing,

Fiona Adams

Farrier trimming hooves

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!