How to have a healthy happy horse.
Volume 24, Number 5
In This Issue:
- Spring Feeding
- More Help For Your Horse
1. Spring Feeding
Spring is here and for those lucky horses who live in native grass pastures this means a wide selection of herbs and nutritious weeds, plus fresh grass high in omega 3 fatty acids and other nutrients. For those horses living in dry lots or stalls it means finishing up last year’s hay and grass pellets or bagged feed. Stalled and dry lotted horses miss out on all those cleansing and nutritious plants provided by nature.
You can help out your pasture deprived horse with some well-chosen supplements. I prefer to offer springtime herbs free choice so the horse can self-select what he needs. I watch horses eating in the pasture and what one horse craves another avoids. It is also the case that horses may seek out certain plants during different weather conditions. They may choose a moistening herb, such as mullein or dandelion root, during drought conditions, and a mild diuretic, such as dandelion leaf, during times of higher humidity.
I have some favorite herbs that I like to rotate through, especially in the spring. I usually put out a handful of dried herbs a day. If I am putting out a formulated herbal supplement, I always follow the package directions. You can also feed fresh herbs if they are growing in areas that your horse is unable to access. Keep in mind that herbs can be very high in sugar so be cautious if you have a metabolic horse. I believe herbs can still be very helpful for metabolic horses but in very small amounts.
Dandelion leaves – Dandelion leaves are high in minerals, have a cooling energy and a bitter flavor. Dandelion leaves are anti-inflammatory, mildly diuretic, help cleanse the blood, have a mild laxative effect and help with sore joints.
Dandelion root – Dandelion root has a cooling and moistening energy and has a bitter and slightly sweet taste. The root is anti-bacterial, anti-tumor, mildly diuretic, good for the liver and can lower blood sugar.
Hawthorn – Hawthorn berry is a wonderful herb to support the heart and circulation. It has a slightly warm to neutral energy and a sour and sweet flavor. Hawthorn is a heart tonic, antispasmodic, antioxidant, astringent, nervine and vasodilator. Hawthorn contains B vitamins, Vitamin C, Biotin, Flavonoids, rutin and quercitin.
Juniper berries – Juniper berries have warm to hot, dry energy which makes them an excellent choice in early spring when the weather can still be cool and damp. They have a pungent, sweet flavor. They stimulate digestion, have a strong diuretic action and help with sore joints. Juniper berries provide Vitamin C, Sulphur, Cooper and Molybdenum.
Cleavers – Cleavers in the whole herb form has a similar energy and taste to dandelion leaves. Cleavers is high in many minerals as well as Vitamin C and luteolin. My horses love both herbs. Cleavers can also help clean the lymphatic system and can address minor skin irritations.
In addition to individual herbs I also like Whole Pastures. Whole pastures contains a wide range of herbs. I also offer this product free choice but it can be added to the feed on a regular basis to provide natural nutrients.
I put out free choice kelp for my horses. I use the product, Source, which is designed for horses. I do not exceed the recommended dosage because I do not want to overdose with iodine. I find some horses will not consume free choice salt or eat food that has salt added but will willingly eat Source, which is high in Na and Potassium.
I use a free choice mineral year round called RedCal from NaturalVet. I have a metabolic horse so I use the RedCal plus magnesium. I find my horses will not eat much for a while but then will suddenly eat large amounts when the weather changes. This product can be left out in buckets and is not affected by rain.
I feed blue green algae to my horses year round. I put, on average, 1 tsp of the algae in the food and my horses love it. If the pasture is especially nutritious or the hay is fresh I may use less and more if the opposite is true.
There are many other herbs that can be given at different times of the year but these are my horses’ favorites in the spring. I suggest reading Equine Herbal and Energetics, by Stacey Small and Andrea Baldwin to help understand the best herbs to offer your horse during different seasons. You may even want to grow herbs or plant herbs along your fence lines where they will not be as easily mowed or grazed down. You can find herb seeds at HarmanyEquine. Your horse will certainly appreciate having herbs to brighten up his diet.
2. More Help For Your Horse
Ready to get make this the best year ever for you and your horse? Consider a nutritional consult with Dr. Ward. Or get help from one of our temperament consultants to discover your horse’s temperament type. You might even consider taking the online course and becoming a temperament consultant yourself.
Then if you are ready to really get serious increasing your knowledge of holistic horse care, the Mentoring Program with one-on-one instruction with Dr. Ward may be just what you are looking for.
Traveling with your horse anytime soon? If you will be going through Colorado, Dr. Ward is offering short term self-care boarding for travelers or for horses that just need a temporary shelter. You’ll find more details at http://www.holistichorsekeeping.com/boarding.html
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