Natural foraging & supplements for horses

Natural herbs are my choice in horse supplements, and letting the horse self-select what supplements they need is something I'm trying to work towards. When a horse is temporarily out of balance, natural herbs can give them what they needs to rebalance in a gentle, supportive way. Every summer I've fed dried cleaver and marigold to Vallu to help support his lymphatic system - he's had these in a separate feed bucket so that if he needs them he'll eat them, and if he doesn't eat them then I know to stop offering them. Amazingly, this form of self-selection is not something routinely offered by many horse owners, probably because we're so conditioned to giving them what we think they should be eating - rather than letting them choose for themselves 🤔 But this is where the line becomes blurry... I have been told by some of the best vets in Germany that Erik should have the best vitamin E to support his muscles because of the slight shivering he has in one of his hind legs, so that is something I will always add to his feed. But the rest? I need to up my game and find more natural alternatives to other supplements!
Horses living in the wild are able to keep themselves healthy by seeking the minerals and nutrients that their body needs by foraging for certain plants and herbs that they require at any particular time. Research has shown that horses will seek out particular plants to help with a particular condition and once they start to feel better, they'll return to normal grazing. For example, have you noticed your horse pulling at the sticky weed in the hedges? I have! It's because they know that it's good for them as sticky weed (galium aparine) which is also commonly known as cliver/goose grass/cleaver is a very useful herb for supporting the lymphatic system and is a diuretic. It's good for allergies, for supporting the liver and kidneys and cleanses the blood. This means that it is particularly good for flushing out swellings and inflammation! I learnt about this a few years ago when Vallu was injured and I had a friend come out to do Reiki on him and see what he'd pick from her "magic box of herbs & oils" and she introduced me to zoopharmacognosy.🌱

What I like to do is to go out into the fields and hedges, and bring back a selection of options and then lay them out in my horse's stable to see what they're drawn to and what they eat. For example, when Vallu was injured in early 2016 he chose things such as willow tree branches, plants like cleavers, nettles, marigold and some days he'd like hawthorn too. I often also gave him nettles as nettles offer a way for horses to balance sugars in their blood, as it helps prevent sugar spikes and nettles also help support a healthy blood supply and circulation.  They're rich in iron and vitamin C and most horses will happily eat them once they have been chopped down and allowed to wilt or if you add them to boiling water and allow the water to cool down before giving the 'nettle water' to the horses - Vallu loved this when he was on box rest! Comfrey was also a massive factor in his rehab for a tendon injury. I gave him the choice to eat it daily which he did for nearly 2 months, after which he started eating it less and less as his leg started to improve. Whenever his legs look like they might need some extra help, these are the supplements I automatically offer him. And if there's nothing near the yard, then I buy straight herbs online. I'm going to buy dried valerian cut root, meadowsweet herb and Boswellia powder to try out with my horses next!
I'm really interested to know if you do this with your horses, and what herbs & plants you've found that your horses like.

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