Holistic Horse Health: The Buzz From the Barn

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 – Is it safe to use Diatomaceous Earth on horses as an anti-parasitic? If so, how much and how often?

A – I tried Diatomaceous Earth for parasite control years ago and it was not effective. It might work in another climate but did not help in Central TX. I use gut conditioning as my main line of worm control. I feed a probiotic mix to help keep the gut healthy and resistant to parasites. I give 10 to 15 capsules once a month, ideally close to the full moon. I watch my horses closely for any sign of dull hair or weight loss. I also do fecal exams once or twice a year to be safe.

Q – I have a 3 year old Morgan filly that I have typed as Fire. I have been having some trouble in her ground training with huge emotional outbursts and temper tantrums. She would not let me touch her poll area, but after a body work session with a Masterson Method practitioner, that has resolved. After about 10 days of lunging with a surcingle, she was still very upset about the girth, so I started her on Chlorella and Ugard Pellets. After a week, she seems a bit better, but now her skin is flaky in some areas, she has bumps on her shoulders and front legs, and she has itched patches of skin off of her muzzle and the side of her face. In addition, her hooves that are normally hard as rock, are crumbling.

Am I missing something nutritional? She is on a vit/min supplement and free choice coastal hay, no grain. As emotional as she is, she is teachable and not mean at all – I don’t think this is a training issue, I think it is physical.

A – Sounds like you have your Fire filly typed perfectly.

I suspect that whatever was the problem with her poll was painful enough that the stress affected her digestive system. She may indeed have some ulcers but the underlying problem is an overgrowth of harmful bacteria that are producing toxic byproducts in her gut. This is probably why she is having the skin issues trying to clear these toxins. A sore tummy would also cause her to resent the girth.

I would start your filly on Ration Plus to get her gut bacteria back into balance. I would also give her a small flake of alfalfa twice a day. The alfalfa is easy to digest and has a natural buffering effect in the stomach. Plan to keep her on the Ration Plus for at least 6 months to allow full healing in her digestive system and help her get through her initial training.

Liver stagnation could also be a problem if she has experienced some frustration with her life. If the feed change is not helping after a few weeks you may need to add some liver support herbs like milk thistle and dandelion root. You may also want to consider the homeopathic remedy, chamomile. Chamomile 30c before and after a training session can help a horse that is upset by a real or perceived conflict. Fire horses never want to be in trouble. Let me know if this works for you.

Q – How much raw papaya do you feed a 1000 lb. horse a day?

A – It does not take much papaya to make a difference. Start at 1 oz. twice a day.