Holistic Horse Health: The Buzz From the Barn

Madalyn on horse

Madalyn Ward, DVM shares her answers to specific holistic horse care questions from clients. To see more questions and answers on real holistic horse care situations check out our Holistic Horsekeeping and Horse Harmony Facebook pages.

Q – I’ve had my water tested (Well) and it’s VERY high in Ca/Mg. I was “sold” on a magnesium product for a horse I am helping with kissing spines rehab and also a couple of cresty ones. I have this intuitive push back feeling about giving supplemental magnesium if the water is already abundant in it. I am assuming, possibly erroneously, that the minerals are bioavailable in water…. No, my hay is not tested-feed store hay that changes sources thanks to the shortage. I also do not feel good about single mineral supplementation. But maybe this is just me being uncomfortable with a chemical supplement as I do 100% whole food/herb with rare exception using ABC products.

A – As far as Mg. I agree about not using single minerals unless you suspect a deficiency. Mg gets low in grass if it is stressed by too much or too little rain so it is often low in grass and hay. Signs of deficiency include spookiness, muscle soreness and foot soreness. If you see any of these things you may want to add some mg to the feed. If you use the ABC products you can use M mix. You can also put this out free choice.

Q – Passing along a warning about DE I received and wondering about your thoughts on it. It makes sense to me and has kept me from purchasing products that contain DE. What I’ve been told is:
“Diatomaceous earth is actually the mined deposits of the old shells of microscopic sea creatures. It is composed of silica, which is also glass. It is sharp shards of glass essentially. It is used successfully to kill insects in the garden and outside the house, to repel ants coming into the house. It works by cutting the shells of the insects so they dehydrate and also plugging the spiracle breathing holes if the insects and suffocating them. It works totally by a mechanical means. It has no chemical activity.
People mistakenly believe that it will also kill parasites in the body. This is false. Worms have a thick skin that protects them from digestive acids and they are resistant to just about everything. The DE will do far more damage to the sensitive small intestine and large intestine lining than anything done to resistant parasites! Cutting microscopic shards of glass cuts holes in the gut to cause leaky gut syndrome- something that we are already dealing with from toxic foods and glyphosate which kills good probiotics and favors bad ones, that will excessively acidity the gut to “burn” holes in the gut.”

A – I would agree that DE is not effective against intestinal parasites, based on my experience. I also have concerns about horses breathing the dry powder. I can’t say I have seen any negative effects on the digestive tract from horses eating products containing small amounts of DE. My understanding is that the particles are too small to cause damage to the intestine of a horse. I would sure be interested in any studies that show damage.

Q – My young horse has developed an upper respiratory infection. His blood work and temperature were normal. However, when he was scoped the vet discovered quite a bit of mucous. He’s on Doxycycline, Ventipulmin and Equioxx. I think he needs a probiotic but I’m unsure of the quantity and timing. He doesn’t have diarrhea from the antibiotics but I wonder if a probiotic would be beneficial anyway. Any suggestions are appreciated.

A – Yes, you do want a probiotic especially after you stop the antibiotics. If you have the Essentials Blend powder that would work well now and when he is off the antibiotics.