How nature can help your horse in his twilight years.
By Dena Schwartz, Holistic Therapist & Zoopharmacognosist
As our horses age they are likely to need a little extra help to stay fit and well. I have been working with animals & plant medicine for almost 15years now and would love to share with you the oldies top tips.
Nature boasts hundreds of medicinal treasures; they come in the form of leaves, flowers, bark, berries, earth and roots. Their therapeutic value can really help to keep your horse emotionally and physically well. Animals have used plant medicine to survive and thrive throughout evolution. Unfortunately our domesticated horses often have limited access to these amazing plants so it’s for us to re introduce them if we want to reap their benefits.
The easiest way to include nature’s pharmacy into your horse’s routine is to take him on regular picnic walks. These walks will give him the opportunity to browse the hedgerows self-selecting the plants he most needs at any given time. The older horse will likely be tempted by the leaves of hawthorn bush to improve heart health, the leaves and bark from the willow tree for its anti-inflammatory effects, cleavers for their lymphatic support and dandelion and nettle for their cleansing and tonic effect on the blood, kidneys and liver. You may also find your horse has a passion for rosehips; these bright red berries are packed with vitamins and anti-oxidants, they benefit the skin, hooves, joints and most importantly the immune system.
If your elderly horse struggles with joint stiffness you could offer organic chickweed oil, dried devils claw root, liquorice or willow bark. These all offer anti inflammatory and analgesic effects.
For those with compromised digestion you could offer slippery elm powder, fenugreek or meadow sweet herb. These aid digestion, line the gut and help your horse absorb the most from his feed.
For the older horse that just needs a little help to thrive dried rosehips, organic barley grass powder, nettle, cleavers and dandelion are a perfect place to start. These offer fantastic support to the body systems; they are bursting with all the essential vitamins, minerals and trace elements and have a long list of therapeutic values perfectly suited to our equine friends.
To get started, offer each herb one at a time, allow your horse to smell the herb and to decide if he would like to eat it, you are giving your horse the opportunity to self medicate, allow him to guide you and to control his dosage at all times. Giving the control to your horse ensures that he is getting the right amount of each herb based on his needs that day and avoids over or under dosing. Giving you maximum effect!