DO IT YOURSELF!
Herbal Teas for You and Your Horse
Aaahhhh. fresh herb tea. The wonderful flavor. the soothing aroma. the gentle relaxation. the reviving lift. It's a healthy beverage and a good, natural 'medicine', hot or cold. Tea provides us with minerals and other beneficial nutrients present in herbs as well as their healing qualities, and in a delightful, utilizable liquid form. The body, human or equine, is largely composed of water and needs pure, healthy liquids often for it to function efficiently. What could be a more enjoyable way to help the body than drinking a fresh, delicious cup of tea?? And don't be selfish; share some tea with your horse!
Herb tea for your horse is easy and fun. Tea, also known as an infusion, is simply leaves, flowers, stems, seeds, and/or the more delicate plant parts steeped in boiling water to extract the soluble qualities or ingredients of the herb. Steeping and boiling bring out the active constituents in the herbs making them readily available and more easily absorbed. Teas have an advantage over dried herbs in that teas can be quicker in absorption and action when administered straight into the mouth via syringe or drench. Some horses may prefer to drink it from the bucket! Herbs such as dandelion, comfrey, calendula, raspberry leaf, echinacea, mint, and clover are a few that you and your horse may both enjoy. There are many others as well, but be sure you have researched the plant to ensure that it has properties you want for yourself or your horse, and none that may be harmful in any given situation.
A decoction, similar to tea, is a liquid made from boiling the tougher plant parts such as roots, hard seeds, and bark to extract their nutrients and qualities. The liquid can be used much as tea and the root and bark pieces, which have become softened in the boiling process, may also be enjoyed by the horse.
These herbal solutions are also useful for moistening feeds, warming bran mashes, dressing bandages and compresses, and preparing soaks, fly sprays, and topicals.
Adjust accordingly for stronger or weaker solutions and lesser or greater quantity.
Dried herbs: 2 oz. by measure (4 tablespoons) per 4 cups (32 oz. or 1 liter) water
Fresh herbs: 5 oz. by measure (10 tablespoons) per 4 cups (32 oz. or 1 liter) water
Boil the desired amount of water. Fill a large stainless steel tea ball or a gauze cloth (cotton or other natural fabric) with dried or fresh herbs. Steep for 15 minutes. Let cool to desired temperature and serve 2 cups twice daily. Make a fresh batch daily keeping reserved portions refrigerated because they do not stay fresh long.
Soak 1/4 cup seeds, chopped roots and bark pieces in a covered pot of cold water (6 cups or 1 1/2 liters) for 10 minutes. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain if desired and serve when cooled sufficiently. Give 2 cups twice daily.
Teas do take a little time and preparation. If your time is too short, dried herbs placed directly into the feed are easy and quick and can be given instead. If you do not have the capability to boil water where the horse is kept, perhaps the fresh tea can be made at home and brought to the horse. Make it fresh; never take the chance of feeding old tea.
For safety, always consult your veterinarian and equine herbal specialist before feeding herbs or herbal preparations to your horse.