You’ll often hear me talk about offering what I call a self-selection session for my clients. What this means is I am allowing a horse, dog, cat or other companion animal to choose healing plants, herbs, oils, waters and other natural extracts for their medicinal properties. Animals instinctively know what is healing for their issues, whether they are of the body, mind, heart or soul and when given free access to healing substances will choose them freely.
In this guest post, Georgette Topakas of Zephyr’s Garden writes about healing plants, herbs and supplements that she feeds to her horses. The one modification I would make to her practice is to offer these individually to your horse allowing them to choose which ones and how much they want. It will generally vary from day to day and season to season. It will also be dependent on the quality of their feed and grazing.
All of the items listed are beneficial for your dogs and cats as well. Contrary to popular belief, garlic is only toxic when the dosage is too much for your pets’ weight.
Have you allowed your pet to self-select fresh herbs or noticed them foraging?
Herbs for your Horse’s Immune System
Guest Post, by Georgette Topakas
Having purchased large quantities of herbs for the past four years, I’ve seen a huge range in quality. The companies I recommend are consistently representing high quality herbs at reasonable prices. I’ve found that when bargain hunting for herbs, you truly get what you pay for – stems, dirt, pebbles, and a moldy smell.
Dosages will vary per horse. These are what I use for my two horses. Since location, hay, and feeds will vary, be sensitive to your horse’s needs and adjust appropriately.
Spirulina – Also known as Blue Green Algae, it is my favorite herb for boosting the immune system and reducing allergic reactions. It has also been proven beneficial for horses suffering from respiratory issues. Spirulina needs to be in the horse’s system for about four weeks before you will begin to reap its benefits. So if your horse suffers from any seasonal afflictions such as Sweet Itch or hives, start adding Spirulina to his food a month before you anticipate problems. I recommend Spirulina in its pure, powdered form, having found the wafers to be ineffective. For some horses it’s not palatable to the point that they’ll ignore their feed. Start with a very small amount and add more over time. Your goal is to build to about two teaspoons/day. You can also add a little unsweetened apple sauce initially to tempt a picky eater. A great source for this herb is StarwestBotanicals.com. Purchased by the pound, it will last quite a while.
Kelp – A rich source in iodine, excellent for strong hooves and balancing the thyroid. Also contains Calcium, Copper, Iron and Magnesium. Look for kelp that is harvested in the non-polluted waters of Australia, as kelp can accumulate toxic waste and heavy metals. About one teaspoon per day.
Rosehips – Wonderful source of Vitamin C and Copper. In addition to restoring the body to good health with a boost of Vitamin C, Rosehips have been found to increase hoof quality and prevent Scratches. San Francisco Herbs online sells the powdered version by the pound at a very reasonable cost. About two teaspoons per day.
Dried Dandelion Leaves – If you have access to fresh dandelion leaves, all the better! Rich in potassium, and Vitamins A, B, C, and D, it contains higher levels of Vit.A than carrots. A great overall “body tonic” herb. At horse shows, when my horse is sweating excessively, I feed fresh dandelions by the bunch as a “natural electrolyte.” Both the leaves and the roots are effective. I feed the dried leaves at about three tablespoons per day. When feeding fresh leaves, I give the horses as much as they’d like to eat.
Granulated Garlic – This is a must for making your horse less palatable to bugs. I have tested my horses with and without granulated garlic and within a week of going off this supplement, their bodies were covered in bites. No need to purchase an expensive horse supplement, this product can be found in any restaurant supply store or Costco. About one tablespoon per day.
Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) – I consider this liquid a year-round “must” for my horses. Entire articles have been written on its benefits and a Google search will provide hundreds of great articles, but make sure you purchase the “raw” unprocessed variety. ACV is a good source of Potassium, Phosphorus, Sulphur, Iron, Manganese, Silica, and Magnesium. It’s highly palatable for most horses and can be added to a water bucket or directly to feed. It is said to be beneficial in the treatment and prevention of arthritis and for bug bite prevention it makes the horse’s blood unsuitable for insects. Combined with granulated garlic, it creates a powerful bug bite prevention duo. About ½ a cup per day.
Georgette Topakas lives in Santa Barbara, CA with her human and animal family. She is owner and founder of Zephyr’s Garden, Natural Products for Horses, and loves to spend her spare time galloping her daughter’s outgrown pony all over the trails of Santa Barbara.