Herbs for Healthy Horses

Nutritious herbs – a natural health-food for horses

By Christina Blume

It is a wonderful feeling to be able to take good care of our horses. This begins with sound nutrition. Proper nutrition gives our horses' bodies what they need to maintain health and to deal with the physical and mental stress that they encounter daily. Herbs have been used for centuries to care for our animals and ourselves, because they are very nutritious. Most herbs are inexpensive and safe, however some act like strong medicine, so always consult with your veterinarian and qualified herbalist to avoid problems and to know what to expect when feeding herbs. Below is a recipe that I have used for years to insure that my horses have everything they need nutritionally. They have been quite sound and healthy, and calls to the veterinarian have been few.

Homemade Nutritious Dried Herb Basic Blend
Alfalfa leaf
Burdock root
Dandelion leaf and root
Mixed greens dried (wheat grass, barley grass, blue green algae, spirulina, kamut)
Nettle leaf
Flaxseed, powdered (this needs to be refrigerated, or you can grind it fresh before use with a clean coffee grinder)
Nutritional yeast (use nutritional yeast, not brewers yeast)
Lecithin granules
Ginger root, powdered
Rose hips, powdered

Alfalfa leaf - is alkaline as are all the greens so it is beneficial in treating bladder irritations from over-acidity. It is antioxidant, and high in chlorophyll, protein, vitamins and trace minerals. Alfalfa has been used for years in the prevention of cancer. It inactivates carcinogens in the liver and small intestines before their growth causes major problems.
Burdock root - I think burdock root, in addition to flaxseed is one of the most important herbs we can give our pets. Burdock root is a blood cleanser, an anti-rheumatic, and has shown anti-tumor properties It is also a premier skin herb. This is great for any skin problems; eczema, psoriasis, allergic skin disorders, great for the liver and as a blood cleanser. Loaded with calcium and phosphorus and B vitamins. Burdock has a balanced diuretic action that helps the body eliminate waste materials. It helps in cleansing the body of environmental toxins and thus takes a load off the liver and kidneys.
Dandelion leaves - these are full of minerals, trace minerals, vitamins and protein.
Dandelion root - is and excellent liver tonic and support.
Greens - barley grass, wheat grass, nettles chlorella, alfalfa, kamut etc. A mixture of these greens provides live enzymes that are crucial for digestive health. Combination of greens contains every mineral, trace mineral and all 20 amino acids, which make a complete, bioavailable source of protein. Cereal grasses are a rich source of chlorophyll, vitamin C, vitamin K, the B vitamins, iron, calcium, folic acid and carotene. Barley grass and wheat grass are powerful detoxifiers.
Nettle- nettle leaf has been used as a fortifying herb for centuries because it is full of minerals and trace minerals. It is especially effective for allergy symptoms in the respiratory tract and skin allergies when combined with burdock root. It is helpful for rheumatic conditions, blood pressure regulation and anemia.
Garlic - animals have been treated for centuries with garlic for worms, bacteria, fungus, virus, ticks, lice and parasites. Garlic is ideal for respiratory disorders and the entire digestive system. When garlic is mixed with nutritional yeast and added to the animal's diet, the coat takes on an odor which is unattractive to fleas.
Flax seed - provides omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids which are important because they: regulate response to pain and inflammation, regulate the flow of substances in and out of the cells, prevent blood cells from clumping together, are necessary for kidney function and fluid balance, regulate nerve transmission, are the primary energy source for the heart muscle, direct endocrine hormones to their proper destination, dilate or constrict blood vessels, regulate pressure in eye, joint and blood vessels, regulate steroid production and hormone synthesis etc.
Nutritional yeast - provides full spectrum of the B vitamins. Animals love the taste.
Lecithin - provides phosphatidylcholine for the brain, emulsifies fat to take some of the load off the liver
Ginger - beneficial for the entire digestive system, cardiovascular system
Rose hips - powdered, these are full of vitamin C and they taste delicious
Pumpkin seeds - raw, ground; helps the body to rid itself of worms and parasites

Combine 1 part each of everything. (A part can be whatever you want it to be. It can be a cup or it can be a pound if you purchase your herbs by the pound.) Mix these all up and store in a ziplock baggie in the refrigerator. Add 3 Tablespoons of the dried herb blend to your horse's feed once per day, either morning feed or evening feed.

If you are treating minor ailments you can safely add the following herbs on a short-term basis to the basic blend listed above.

Milk thistle seed - I will add 1 part milk thistle seed to the basic herb blend when my horses have been exposed to toxins such as herbicides or drugs that were needed temporarily. Milk thistle seed is helpful to the liver. This can be added to the basic mix for 3-4 weeks.
Licorice root - this herb is anti-inflammatory, good for ulcerations, helpful in supporting the liver. You can add 1 part to the basic herb blend for 3-4 weeks.
Echinacea root and flower - this herb supports the immune system and is antiviral and antibacterial. It works very well in the respiratory tract and on skin infections. You can add 1 part to the basic herb blend for 3-4 weeks
Hawthorne leaf and berry - this is a wonderful herb for the heart and circulatory system. It normalizes blood pressure. You can add 1 part to the basic herb blend for 3-12 weeks.
Pumpkin seeds - raw, powdered pumpkin seeds help the body to fight off worms and parasites. You could add 1 part to the basic recipe every other time you make a batch.

All of the herbs in the basic mix and the herbs for ailments can be purchased in bulk from larger health food stores. I order mine by the pound from Monterey Bay Herb Company because I find their prices more reasonable. Their web site is www.herbco.com/homeindex.htm or you can order by phone, 800-500-6148.

This article is intended for informational purposes only. Please consult with your veterinarian and herbalist when feeding herbs.

About the author:

Christina Blume is an herbalist from Elizabeth, CO. She teaches a variety of herb classes throughout the Denver area, at Denver Botanic Gardens, and Arapahoe Community College. She enjoys teaching about the use of herbs and flower essences for people and their critters. Her passion is teaching about flower essences for behavioral and emotional complaints. Christina makes flower essence formulations for her own dogs, cats, and horses and for local animal communicators and countless animal caretakers in her community. For more information about flower essences or where to find them, visit Christina’s web site, www.blumesfarm.com or call Christina at 303-646-6081.