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Equine Zoopharmacognosy/Self Selection

Horses living a natural/wild life will spend a lot of time foraging for the plants, minerals, etc. that they need to maintain their health or to regain full health after an illness.

Through domestication we have taken this ability away from our horses, many who now live life in small paddocks with no access to hedgerows or various areas to forage. This can in part be rectified by taking our horses for walks and allowing them the time to forage through hedgerows, verges, etc. where there is much more variety than is available to them in their paddocks.

We can also help our horses with this natural and important behaviour by offering them various herbs to self-select from. I have don’t this for several years with Jess and Doug but, more recently I have been doing it with Trooper.

Trooper came down with a very bad case of laminitis very quickly meaning I wanted to give him the best chance possible of a full recovery. Offering herbs to Trooper was in no way a substitute for veterinary care, they were offered alongside following all of guidance from both my vet and farrier.

For the laminitis I got a specific selection of herbs which had been put together for qualities in aiding the healing process these herbs included;

  • Clivers (Galium aparine) – Clivers support and tone the lymphatics, help to maintain a health urinary system and are silica rich so are good for improving hoof and coat quality.

  • Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) – Comfrey aids the breakdown of red blood cells in bruising, aids mobility, soothes the digestive tract, helps with the health of cartilage, soft connective tissue and bone and also helps maintain a healthy respiratory system.

  • Devils claw (Harpogophytum procumbens) – Devils claw helps with pain and inflammation, aids mobility, helps with joint stiffness and encourages appetite.

  • Nettle leaf (Urtica dioica) – Nettle leaf is a good spring tonic and blood cleanser, supports circulation, is good for joints and are rich in iron.

  • Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha) – Hawthorn is very beneficial to heart rate, blood flow and blood pressure and also aids mobility.

Trooper was offered each herb separately twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Each morning he would take each herb but leave the devils claw and each evening he would take all five of the herbs suggesting to me that his discomfort/pain was slightly lower in the mornings after being alone overnight and slightly raised in the evening after having Douglas to play with during the day.

Thankfully Trooper has greatly improved since his attack and is now back to his cheeky self. I can’t say that this is totally down to the herbs, as I said previously the herbs were offered alongside veterinary and farrier care. Although I do believe that the herbs helped in his speedy recovery.

I buy all of my herbs from Maxine who runs natural equine has a wealth of knowledge and experience and is always happy to help with your horse’s individual needs.

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