Natural Horse Supplies for Complementary and Alternative Equine Healthcare

Originally founded by equine herbalist Suzanne Woodward DBTh, MRH, MURHP, Equine Natural Health is a complete resource for those who want to know more about natural horse supplies, supplements, treatments & therapies for horses.

Alternative and complementary equine health care is both popular and increasingly accepted amongst horse owners and trainers. More and more, products based on natural and complimentary approaches are appearing on the market.

 

These essentially fall into three areas: 

Treating Ailments and Supporting Basic Nutrition 

Boosting Wellbeing and 

Modifying Behavioural Problems

Worried that your horse isn’t getting exactly the right nutritional balance?

Click here to see details of natural supplements and tonics to boost wellbeing.

Is ineffective worming compromising your horses’ condition?  

Proper dietary support for common ailments and issues is vital.

Click here for a review of the best products for a range of conditions and issues

Behaviour Issues? Rule out pain and impact of any recent change first

Using equine supplements gives the informed owner the chance to influence their horse’s physical health and temperament to good effect. Grass, hay and good feeding can’t always provide the optimum nutritional levels for so many reasons and it can be hard to determine what may be lacking.  Targeted use of natural horse supplies and supplements can only enhance an already sound diet. This should form part of every owner’s repertoire of horse management.  

These products are typically based on natural remedies, and have been carefully developed by scientists and vets who understand the physiological requirements of the working horse and the challenges many owners face with this excitable and temperamental creature of flight.

Basic Nutrition
The vision of horses out in lush, green meadows is one every owner looks forward to during those long winter months.

But can you really assess your horse’s inner health by looking at a field of grass?  Grass, like hay, can only offer the nutrients from the soil in which it grows, so your horse could actually be lacking an essential nutrient from his forage diet and you wouldn’t necessarily know.

Dietary supplements are the ‘go-to’ remedy for so many equine conditions and problems, and sometimes as preventative measures.There are multiple off the shelf and prescribed veterinary supplements, based on natural  horse supplies and supplements, for a whole range of problems and conditions including:
  • Gastric and gut health
  • Respiratory compromise, coughing and pollen-related issues
  • Joint supplements to promote the good health of joint components, joint fluid and cartilage
  • Hoof supplements to boost growth or help to maintain strong good quality horn
  • Skin & Coat supplements
  • Immuno boosters
  • Support performance horses in very hard work
  • Behavioural problems
In the summer months we ask our horses to work particularly hard – local shows, county shows, horse trials and Pony Club and riding club qualifiers.Many horses can compete on a diet of just hay and grass, it is surprising how much energy and stamina simple fibre can provide.

You don’t want your horse to struggle, but you also don’t want to overfeed him either with all the health and temperament issues associated with this.

Why not think about a balancer or tonic to help maintain healthy gut function and assist your horse in really deriving the most from his food?  This will help support him through the stresses of travelling and competition, which can deplete resources too.

Supplementation can be factored into the diet of an older horse experiencing arthritic changes and, in conjunction with diet and exercise, would benefit from additional nutritional support in the form of Glucosamine and Chondroitin.

Adding something to your horse’s diet or sourcing a natural therapy can be short-term, for example, to deal with a defined or acute need such as a horse with crumbling and brittle feet benefiting from a boost to promote good horn growth.

It can become long term so that the horse may remain on a hoof supplement for months going forward, bearing in mind that the hoof in its entirely takes between nine and twelve months to grow.

Boosting Wellbeing
It’s great for your horse to have as natural a diet as possible but do you have that nagging concern at the back of your mind that there is just not quite enough energy for competition?Check that condition is not being compromised by ensuring that the horses’ worm burden is under control through proper pasture management and sympathetic

Every year, grass growth is different.  It depends on winter rainfall levels, the arrival of spring, ambient temperatures and how much rain continues throughout the growing season.

The same applies to cut hay which will vary hugely depending on the quality of the crop, how long the hay lay on the field, and levels of rainfall.

It is possible to have the herbage and soil of your fields analysed which is a relatively straightforward process.  This is complementary to an overall worming regime where worm burden is measured and then treated accordingly.

However, scientific evaluation is preferable as part of a long-term pasture management strategy, during those periods when the fields are rested and treated.

You can also get your hay analysed but, this is more useful as a guide for protein and sugar levels and potentially identifying horses for whom the hay might not be suitable.

Rather than hoping for the best, a broad-spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement will take the guesswork out of your horse’s core nutritional requirements.

It covers horses at rest solely on a grass and hay diet and horses in light work who are receiving hard rations but not in sufficient amounts to ensure adequate vitamin and mineral levels.

Hard working horses need good muscle tone and development to work athletically and stay sound and well.

Performance supplements add in amino-acids to the horse’s diet to aid correct muscle development, supporting the rider’s training and schooling and competition prowess.

They can also help muscle repair after strenuous activity and encourage growth in immature horses.  Horses coming back into work after a period of rest of rehabilitation will also benefit.

Therapies to  improve muscle tone and help with “creaky joints” can be used side by side with supplements. Low level laser (red light) therapy can be administered as well as magnotherapy, for example using magnetic horse rugs and boots, are complimentary and non invasive.

Behaviour

There are lots of things which can contribute to a horse “misbehaving”. Some are fixable and some more challenging.

If you are seeing a sudden change in horses behaviour, you should first consider and rule out pain, and any effects from change in routine, food or environment. 

Horses react for a reason – is there really such a thing as a badly behaved horse?

Pain:

 A poorly fitting saddle can cause behavioural problems as can an undiagnosed lameness or other health conditions such as ulcers, painful teeth or kissing spine to name but a few.  

Unfortunately, horses cannot tell us where it hurts.  

Horses are hugely good at hiding pain, but ultimately this might manifest as being resistant, such as refusing jumps or seemingly just downright naughty – bucking or rearing. 

Some horses can become very subdued with pain or infection, whereas others might be unpredictable and explosive.

Pain should always be ruled out as the cause of errant behaviour in the first instance.  A basic routine blood profile can also be a good indicator of the horse’s current state of health

Change of regimen –  exercise; medical treatment; diet; yard; ownership:  

When horses move home, they can become stressed and unsettled until they get used to the new yard or situation.  

A sharp horse, with an inexperienced handler or rider, will quickly take advantage and become difficult and sometimes dangerous.  

A horse on the receiving end of the wrong feed, or the wrong balance between diet and exercise, will also become difficult. What might start as high jinks can quickly deteriorate into engrained and unwelcome patterns of behaviour.

Horses are sensitive creatures and dietary supplements, and natural remedies, are often an early consideration for animals who are exhibiting sudden changes of behaviour.  

Horses and ponies often have specific, defined problems or conditions, either acute or chronic, which may require additional support not necessarily gained from a standard balanced diet of forage and hard feed.  

Calmers are an invaluable tool to take the edge off, allowing the horse perform to the best of his ability and not become so stressed by travelling, the competition arena, a change of routine or different accommodation.  

Magnesium and Calcium are the most popular ingredients in most calmers which can be liquid or powder.Owners have also found products based on natural horse supplies such as Camomile to be beneficial.