What are the benefits of feeding herbs to horses, and how do we know which herbs are best to feed? Joanne Wallace from Thompson & Redwood explains that domestic horses usually don’t have the variety of plant choice that their wild cousins cross-graze upon. Their Dodson & Horrell herbal range was developed to replicate the horse’s normal foraging behaviour in the wild. Here’s what you need to know about herbs and your horse.
Why feed herbs to horses?
The feeding of herbs is becoming increasingly popular with horse owners across the globe. As we become more aware of the benefits of feeding certain herbs, it has become common practice to add dried herbs or herbal tinctures to horse feed as a means to promote health and wellbeing.
In the wild, horses naturally graze on a variety of plant species to supplement their diet. As herbivores, they are designed to live on plants and plant materials; both to satisfy nutritional requirements as well as provide medicinal value. Horses are great at self-selecting herbs to satisfy these needs, seeking out certain herbs and plants by instinct.
However, domestic horses often do not have access to such a variety of plants. With tightly managed paddocks and restricted access to these paddocks, most horses are not able to get all the natural antioxidants that are found in the grass, and can thus can benefit from the addition of certain herbs in their diet. By replicating the way horses used to self-select from hedgerows, we can help them to satisfy these nutritional requirements in the most natural way that mimics how their wild ancestors were able to do so.
Herbs can offer a wide range of support to the horse, from maintaining healthy digestive and immune systems, to helping soothe those prone to nervous or excitable behaviour. Some of the most common herbs fed to horses include chamomile (renowned for its calming properties), nettle (promotes healthy skin, coat and circulation), garlic (great for general health and wellbeing, as well as supporting the circulatory and immune systems), raspberry leaves (help support the reproductive system), and seaweed (provides minerals essential for healthy hoof growth).
Here at Thompson & Redwood, we stock several herbal products from the Dodson & Horrell range. These include the Lami-Free, Itch-Free and Placid.
Lami-Free: Formulated in 1993, Dodson & Horrell’s Lami-Free contains three different “wild crafted” herbs. The main ingredient, and most important, is nettle, which is a natural antioxidant and is reputed to support the circulatory system. Seaweed and Rosehips are also included to contribute to the nutritional support for healthy hoof growth, which can vary widely between horses. All of these herbs are suitable to be part of the dietary support for horses or ponies prone to, or who have suffered from laminitis in the past. This combination of herbs should be fed in addition to a balanced diet and alongside the correct management of these types of horses or ponies, but as always veterinary advice must be sought with clinical cases, such as laminitis.
Itch-Free: The D&H ‘Itch Free’ herbal blend is ideal for horses prone to skin irritations or itchiness (e.g. Sweet Itch/Queensland Itch). It contains a scientifically balanced blend of herbs (including Chamomile, Nettle, Burdoch Root and Garlic Granules) to provide a nutritional supplement that is ideal for maintaining skin and coat health.
Placid: The D&H ‘Placid’ herbal supplement contains a mix of scientifically tested natural ingredients that have been chosen for their beneficial effect on horses with behavioural issues. These include Chamomile, Vervain, Lime Flowers and Lemon Balm; a calming blend of herbs that are renowned for their genuine calming characteristics and positive influence on nervous system function.All Dodson & Horrell herbal blends are formulated by a resident herbalist who has over 35 years’ experience of sourcing and blending herbs for the equine market. Working alongside trusted long-term suppliers, all of whom work hard to ensure that their herb crops meet certain specifications for quality and consistency, D&H ensure that all their products are thoroughly tested and safe for use. The herbal products are completely natural with nothing added or taken away.
The complete range of D&H herbs are available to buy on the Thomson & Redwood online store with shipping around Australia. You’ll also find these herbal formulas across a number of stock feeds around Western Australia.