The ‘why – what – when and how’ of herbs will vary depending on which herbal philosophy you adopt; but any traditional herbal approach aims to restore balance and keep the horse healthy and resistant to common issues.

Why The first response to this is ‘why not’. Herbs can help with various health issues, but they can also be given to fill in gaps in nutritional needs to avoid health issues a horse may be prone to or to assist with the sort of work you are asking of them.

Using herbs with horses is not a new therapy. The use of herbs has been well-documented in old veterinary and herbal texts. Traditionally many cultures have used herbs to keep their horses healthier and happier.

Today’s herbalists focus their use of herbs on those classified as gentle in their action, and have moved away from treating the symptom to caring for the whole horse.

What Often people complicate their choice of herbs thinking giving more herbs is going to achieve a bigger result. More often you will achieve more success with herbs using a simple selection; sometimes a combination of up to three herbs if chosen carefully, or a maximum of five herbs can cover many issues.

A nervous horse suffering gut issues will benefit most from nervine herbs which will cover both nervousness and gut sensitivity especially if selecting one that suits his personality. To refine the selection a manure inspection may assist as dry manure will benefit from different herbs to wet or stinky manure, so rather than giving every nervine herb available, a selection of one, two, or three will be enough.

A sore stiff horse with joint pain may also have a skin issue, while others may have a sensitive gut, or need the nutritional support from an arthritic herb full of easy to digest minerals. Again, a sensible choice can save money and achieve a better result.

When Don’t make adding herbs to your horse’s routine arduous. Like us, our horses are creatures of habit and the best way to utilise the herbs is to incorporate into their daily routine.

A horse of any age can benefit from herbs. As soon as a foal starts nibbling at the mare’s feed, you can give dried herbs. Some foals can have a paste of powdered herbs, and depending on why you are wanting to give herbs, they usually won’t have the same amount you would feed a full-sized horse.

In many cases, the foal will benefit from the mare’s milk or sampling her feed for general health. Just avoid strong tasting herbs or ones that dry up the milk prematurely.

Herbs’ preventative properties are perfect for addressing the management of chronic issues. When it comes to an acute issue, the best option is your veterinarian and then herbs can be used to help with recovery.

Some herbs are more easily assimilated in the first feed of the day while other herbs are more suited to the evening feed. Generally, most herbs will fit in with your horse’s routine. A more acute inflammation will benefit from smaller amounts often, while chronic conditions can be managed with one daily serve.

How Herbs are dynamic giving you flexibility with amounts given. Starting with a small selection allows for additions or substitution as your horse responds. If you want to give up to five herbs, try and keep a daily or feed serve to one cup. That way your horse doesn’t have to work too hard to digest the extra herbs.

If you give the ‘recommended’ amount, this is for when you give just one herb. The more herbs you combine, the less of each herb will enhance individual herbs to achieve results.

If you find a blend with more herbs than suggested here, they have usually been formulated by a herbalist with the synergy of each herb balanced within the blend.

For the fussy eaters, often softening the plant matter in hot water will make the dried herbs more palatable. Place your selected herbs into a mug and pour boiling or hot water to cover them; cover and allow to steep for five to twenty minutes; then add the entire contents to the feed.

If your horse initially avoids a new herb, introduce gradually, start with a pinch and work up to the desired amount over a week.

For most horses the addition of herbs makes for a tastier feed, with benefits.

If have any concerns about your horse’s wellbeing, firstly get a veterinarian diagnosis. Do not underestimate the power of herbs, herbs may interact with medications or affect the veterinarian assessment or pathology results. To protect your horse and the reputation of herbs, always keep your veterinarian informed as to what herbs your horse is eating while under their care.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this advertorial is for educational purpose only and is not meant to replace veterinary advice or treatment. Copyright: Catherine Bird has been an equine natural therapist for 33 years working closely with Country Park Herbs for over 21 years offering advice to their clients. 

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