5 Surprising Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar for Your Horse

Apple Cider Vinegar is a type of vinegar made from fermented apple cider, and been used for centuries as a natural supplement for horses due to its numerous health benefits.

But what exactly is it and how does it work as a horse supplement?

Rich in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and amino acids and vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, and E, as well as minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium, this is an amazing supplement.

These nutrients play a crucial role in supporting your horse’s overall health and wellbeing.

It is an incredibly versatile and beneficial supplement for your horse’s diet. In this article we will discuss its many surprising benefits.

Some of its more popular uses are:

Diet Supplement – supporting essential vitamins and minerals

As a horse supplement, Apple Cider Vinegar works by promoting a healthy pH balance in the body. Horses, like humans, have a delicate pH balance that can easily be disrupted by factors such as stress, diet, and environmental conditions.

Digestive Aid – stimulating enzymes and supporting a healthy gut

In addition to pH balance, it also aids in digestion. It has been shown to stimulate the production of digestive enzymes, which helps break down food more efficiently. This can be especially beneficial for horses with digestive issues or those prone to colic. By adding Apple Cider Vinegar to your horse’s diet, you can help maintain their pH balance, which is essential for proper digestion and overall health.

Coat & Hoof Health

Furthermore, it can improve coat and hoof health in horses. Its rich nutrient content promotes a shiny coat, strengthens hooves, and helps prevent conditions such as dry skin and brittle hooves. Furthermore, it can improve coat and hoof health in horses. Its rich nutrient content promotes a shiny coat, strengthens hooves, and helps prevent conditions such as dry skin and brittle hooves

Fly Repellent

Lastly, it can act as a natural fly repellent for horses. its strong odor and taste and odour discourage flies and other insects from landing on your horse, providing them with relief from annoying pests.

Yes – it really is very useful stuff!

The Nutritional Benefits of Adding Apple Cider Vinegar to Your Horse’s Diet

Packed with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, it provides a natural boost to your horse’s overall health and wellbeing.

One of the key nutritional benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar is its vitamin content. It is rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, and E, all of which play a crucial role in supporting your horse’s immune system and overall vitality. These vitamins help strengthen your horse’s immune system, making them less susceptible to illnesses and infections.

Additionally, it is a great source of minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium. These minerals are essential for proper muscle function, bone strength, and overall electrolyte balance in your horse’s body. They contribute to healthy heart function, nerve transmission, and proper cell function.

In summary, adding Apple Cider Vinegar to your horse’s diet offers a wide range of nutritional benefits. From providing essential vitamins and minerals to promoting healthy digestion and supporting overall wellbeing – moe below!

Apple Cider Vinegar as a Digestive Aid for Horses

This is not only a delicious addition to your salad dressings or marinades!

Yet another benefit is its ability to promote healthy digestion in horses.

Acetic acid works to improve digestion by stimulating the production of digestive enzymes.

These enzymes help break down food more efficiently, allowing your horse to extract the maximum amount of nutrients from their feed. This is especially beneficial for horses with digestive issues or those prone to colic.

In addition, Apple Cider Vinegar can help regulate the pH balance in your horse’s stomach. A proper pH balance is essential for optimal digestion and nutrient absorption. Maintaining a healthy pH level prevents acid reflux and other digestive discomforts.

Furthermore, it has natural antimicrobial properties that can help control harmful bacteria in the gut. This can reduce the risk of digestive infections and support a healthy gut flora. A healthy gut flora is crucial for efficient digestion and overall gut health.

It is usual to add one to two tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar to their feed daily. However, it is important to start with a small amount and gradually increase the dosage to allow your horse’s system to adjust.

Please always refer to makers instruction and refer to your local vet if in any doubt.

How Apple Cider Vinegar Can Improve Coat and Hoof Health in Horses

Apple Cider Vinegar isn’t just a supplement that benefits your horse internally, but it can also work wonders for their external health. When added to your horse’s diet, Apple Cider Vinegar can have a significant impact on their coat and hoof health, leading to a more vibrant and healthy appearance.

Amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein it also a key component. Protein is essential for the growth and repair of tissues in your horse’s body. By providing a rich source of amino acids, Apple Cider Vinegar helps support muscle development, healthy hooves, and a shiny coat.

One of the ways that Apple Cider Vinegar improves coat health is by promoting a shiny and lustrous appearance. The nutrients present in Apple Cider Vinegar, such as vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, and E, help nourish the hair follicles and encourage healthy hair growth. This can result in a coat that is not only shiny but also thick and strong.

Additionally, Apple Cider Vinegar can help prevent dry and itchy skin in horses. The acetic acid has antimicrobial properties that can help combat fungal and bacterial infections on the skin. By regularly adding Apple Cider Vinegar to your horse’s diet, you can reduce the risk of skin irritations and allergies, leaving your horse with smooth and healthy skin.

When it comes to hoof health, Apple Cider Vinegar is equally beneficial. It helps improve hoof strength and resilience by providing essential minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium. These minerals are crucial for maintaining healthy hoof growth and preventing conditions like cracked hooves and thrush.

In addition, Apple Cider Vinegar helps balance the pH level of the hoof, creating an environment that is less favorable for the growth of bacteria and fungi. This can reduce the risk of hoof infections and promote overall hoof health.

By incorporating Apple Cider Vinegar into your horse’s diet, you can significantly improve their coat and hoof health, resulting in a happier and healthier horse overall.

Apple Cider Vinegar as a Natural Fly Repellent for Horses

When it comes to pesky flies and annoying insects, finding a natural and effective solution for your horse can be a challenge.

But did you know that Apple Cider Vinegar can act as a powerful fly repellent for horses? That’s right – this versatile supplement has yet another surprising benefit that can make your horse’s life much more comfortable.

The strong odor and taste of Apple Cider Vinegar is enough to keep flies at bay. Flies are naturally repelled by the pungent smell, making it less likely for them to land on your horse and cause irritation.

This can provide your horse with relief from constant buzzing and biting, allowing them to enjoy their time in the pasture or during rides without the constant annoyance of flies.

To use Apple Cider Vinegar as a natural fly repellent, simply add one to two tablespoons to your horse’s feed daily. It’s important to start with a small amount and gradually increase the dosage to allow your horse’s system to adjust. You can also dilute Apple Cider Vinegar with water and apply it directly to your horse’s coat to further enhance its fly-repellent properties.

Dosage and Administration Guidelines for Apple Cider Vinegar as a Horse Supplement

If you’re considering adding Apple Cider Vinegar to your horse’s diet, it’s important to know the proper dosage and administration guidelines to ensure maximum benefits.

While Apple Cider Vinegar is generally safe for horses, it’s essential to start with a small amount and gradually increase the dosage to allow your horse’s system to adjust.

The recommended dosage for Apple Cider Vinegar as a horse supplement is one to two tablespoons per day. You can mix it directly into your horse’s feed or dilute it with water and offer it separately. It’s best to introduce Apple Cider Vinegar slowly, starting with just a teaspoon or less, and gradually increasing the amount over several weeks.

It’s also important to note that not all horses will require the same dosage. Factors such as size, weight, and overall health should be considered when determining the appropriate dosage for your horse. It’s always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian or equine nutritionist to determine the ideal dosage for your specific horse.

When administering Apple Cider Vinegar, it’s essential to use raw, unfiltered, and organic vinegar. These types of Apple Cider Vinegar contain the beneficial nutrients and enzymes that provide the desired health benefits. Avoid using pasteurized or distilled vinegar, as they do not offer the same nutritional value.

It’s also important to store Apple Cider Vinegar properly to maintain its potency. Keep it in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and heat. Check the expiration date before use and discard any expired vinegar.

Incorporating Apple Cider Vinegar into your horse’s diet can have numerous benefits, but it’s crucial to follow the recommended dosage and administration guidelines. By doing so, you can ensure your horse receives the optimal amount of this powerful supplement and reap the surprising benefits it has to offer.

Remember, every horse is unique, so it’s always best to consult with a professional to determine the appropriate dosage and administration guidelines for your specific horse.

Frequently Asked Questions About Using Apple Cider Vinegar for Horses

As an equestrian enthusiast, you likely have questions about using Apple Cider Vinegar as a supplement for your horse. We’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions to help you navigate the world of Apple Cider Vinegar and its benefits for your equine companion.

1. Can I use any type of Apple Cider Vinegar for my horse?

It’s important to use raw, unfiltered, and organic Apple Cider Vinegar for your horse. These types of vinegar retain the beneficial nutrients and enzymes that provide the desired health benefits. Avoid using pasteurized or distilled vinegar, as they do not offer the same nutritional value.

2. How much Apple Cider Vinegar should I give my horse?

The recommended dosage is one to two tablespoons per day. Start with a small amount, such as a teaspoon, and gradually increase the dosage over several weeks. Factors such as your horse’s size, weight, and overall health should be considered when determining the appropriate dosage.

3. How should I administer Apple Cider Vinegar to my horse?

You can mix the vinegar directly into your horse’s feed or dilute it with water and offer it separately. Some horses may prefer one method over the other, so feel free to experiment and see which method works best for your horse.

4. Can Apple Cider Vinegar help with digestive issues in horses?

Yes, Apple Cider Vinegar can be beneficial for horses with digestive issues or those prone to colic. The acetic acid in the vinegar stimulates the production of digestive enzymes, which aids in breaking down food more efficiently and improves digestion.

5. Can Apple Cider Vinegar improve my horse’s coat and hoof health?

Absolutely! The nutrients in Apple Cider Vinegar, such as vitamins and minerals, promote healthy hair growth and nourish the hair follicles. It can result in a shiny and lustrous coat. Additionally, the vinegar helps strengthen hooves and prevent conditions like cracked hooves and thrush.

6. Is Apple Cider Vinegar an effective natural fly repellent for horses?

Yes, Apple Cider Vinegar acts as a natural fly repellent. The strong odor and taste of the vinegar repel flies and other insects, providing your horse with relief from annoying pests.

Remember, every horse is unique, so it’s always best to consult with a professional to determine the appropriate dosage and administration guidelines for your specific horse.

COPD in Horses

COPD in Horses - horse coughing

COPD in horses (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – also known as RAO, Recurrent Airway Disorder and Heaves) as the name suggests is characterised by coughing and a general restriction of the airway caused by an allergy.

COPD in Horses - horse coughing


As with humans, the symptoms can have a range of severity and often occurs more in the winter months.

Typically, first observations will be lack of “fitness”, some coughing especially during exercise and sometimes a thin white discharge from the nose.

As the COPD progresses, the discharge can thicken up and turn yellow. Lumps of thick mucus are coughed up. There are also physiological signs as the horse struggles to breathe. Breathing can be faster or deeper than is usual.

Abdomen muscles become overdeveloped and the horses rear end moves in sympathy with breathing.

NAF Respirator is a very popular supplement for managing COPD in horses.


COPD in horses is caused by a dusty environment.

However, creating a low dust environment for horses is not always easy. Stables can be dirty, and hay can have a high dust content, depending upon how well it is produced.

If possible, inspect hay before you buy. If you do end up with a dusty batch of hay, soaking it can be an option. However, this does leech out some of the goodness in the hay. This can be fine when dealing with natives or lamanitics, but take care your horse is getting overall good nutrition.

If you are using shavings as bedding, it is worth experimenting with different brands. Whilst the majority are marketed as “dust extracted”, some brands are dustier than others. The thicker cut shavings tend to be less dusty, but are slightly less absorbent and are a bit more difficult to shovel. So, there is a balance to be struck between dust levels and convenience

Dust-free stable practices are essential as any dust or mould spores will make the condition worse.

We have also found that some horses just seem to be more susceptible than others. There seems to be no rationale regarding which breeds are more affected. Our hardy little Forester coughs as soon as he gets in a stable (and so mostly lives out), whereas we have previously owned thoroughbreds which have been unaffected.

Combined with pollen issues, this can have a significant impact on respiratory health.

Remedies for COPD in Horses

Start with essential good practice:

Proper stable management and husbandry are critical. Think about the overall environment for your horse. In scientific tests, Vandenput found that careful environmental control made a difference in just 6 weeks.

Things to consider:

  • Frequency and quality of mucking out
  • Dust extracted bedding
  • Hay quality. Hay can be soaked if dusty, but note that this can leach away some of the hays goodness (a technique sometimes used for lamanitics)
  • Alternatives such as Haylage
  • Increase turnout time
  • Treat the immediate problems.

A natural remedy which can act as both an expectorant as well as promoting clear airways and nasal passages can go a long way to resolving these issues for your horse. Also, it goes without saying that for any serious condition, veterinerary supervision is a must.

Look at ways to build up natural defences against respiratory sensitivity

Supplements can be used to promote clear airways, and there are myriad types available on the market demonstrating this is a very common condition.

Natural preventative treatments such as garlic work by building up levels of antioxidants

Supplements for Horses with COPD

COPD is a complaint where you want to do as much as you can to reduce symptoms quickly.

As well as managing exposure to dust and irritants, supplements can further support managing the condition. Supplements for horses with COPD need to provide:

  • Support to the respiratory system. Supplements rich in antioxidants, omega 3 and vitamin C provide this
  • Expectorant to help shift mucus, using herbs such as garlic
  • Soothing comonent such as licorice

NAFs Respirator mix contains the above and more. 

We’ve done some internet research and this mix gets very good reviews, helping not just with COPD but also with pollen allergies over the summer months.

Horse Diseases

Horse Diseases - virus picture
Horse Diseases - virus picture

So many horse diseases that present as minor ailments can be managed if not solved totally by effective husbandry, physical interventions and supportive dietary supplements. 

These can reduce or even eliminate the requirement for veterinary intervention which can bring with it other side effects and problems. 

Never allow a situation to spiral out of control and always seek veterinary advice if you are uncertain. 

In some cases where the issue has run away with the owner, more aggressive interference may be needed to get the problem back on track and to prevent the horse from suffering. 

Thereafter, horses can often be managed very successfully with a combination of intelligent, informed horsemanship of which dietary supplementation is a key element.

Good stable management is really important for your horse’s welfare and health. 

Informed yard and pasture routines are vital to keeping your horse in good shape and anything that saves you potentially expensive vet bills has to be a bonus for your bank balance too. 

Many minor ailments respond well to perhaps a change of regime which can support interventions that don’t necessarily have to be veterinary prescribed. 

Common Horse Diseases

There are many sources and causes of horse diseases. These can be:

  • Bacterial: caused by an invasion of bacteria
  • Viral: Caused by a virus
  • Infestation: Caused by parasitic invasions, such as worms, or irritation – sweet itch, for example
  • Nutrition: Poor or unbalanced nutrition can lead to disease

Our list of common ailments that affect many horses:

6 Uses Of Garlic For Horses

Garlic for horses banner
Garlic for horses banner

Garlic is part of the onion family and has been used for thousands of years both to enhance taste in cooking and, more interestingly in this case, garlic for horses is used as a medicine.

It is a bulbous plant growing in a number of different types, which can be divided into hard and soft-neck varieties.

The majority of produced garlic comes from China, it is easy to grow where the climate is relatively mild and is quite resistant to pests.

Its medicinal use has been for a wide range of ills, as well as a means to prevent disease in Chinese, Indian, Egyptian and European medicine from the renaissance period.

The active chemical in garlic is Allicin and it is this that gives the distinctive smell.

What Type Of Garlic Is Best For Horses?

There are odourless garlic products, but these are not as effective as the odour is lost by ageing the garlic, with a fairly obvious effect on quality, from a medicinal perspective.

The ageing process consists of storing garlic in ethanol for over a year, which must clearly have an impact on its active ingredients and their efficacy.

So, good, unprocessed, smelly garlic is the best type to buy.

Given that there are risks in over-feeding garlic (see cautionary notes below), we recommend using a trusted brand where the amount of effective ingredients are controlled and therefore you can be confident of administering the correct dose.

Medicinal Uses Of Garlic For Horses

Garlic contains the trace elements Selenium and Sulphur. Selenium is an antioxidant known to support the immune system and Sulphur to have blood cleansing properties.

Its medicinal benefits are wide any many. Garlic uses are as follows:

  • Antiseptic
  • Antibiotic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Fly repellant
  • Improve appetite
  • Respiration – as both expectorant and antibiotic. Can be used to build up antioxidant levels to prevent COPD
  • Reduce blood pressure.

It is also fed as a preventative measure and to promote overall wellbeing and support the body’s natural defences.

It can also be used to help increase a horses appetite and make any other feed/supplement more palatable. Garlic supports the good bacteria in your horse’s stomach.

It is also fed, by some owners, to repel flies. The idea is that the horse sweats out garlic smell which flies find unattractive. This can be a key measure, alongside physical barriers, to prevent fly related complaints such as sweet itch.

Feeding Garlic

Typically, a daily feed would be between 14mg to 35 mg per day, depending upon the size of the animal, however, this could differ if the product being used was in any way concentrated.

Please refer closely to suppliers instructions, noting points below.

Note Of Caution

Care must be taken as overfeeding can cause anaemia.

A 2005 study (W. Pearson) conducted regarding the toxicity of garlic for horses fed large amounts of garlic (125g day for 5 weeks) and noted at the end of the study the subjects suffered anaemia thought to be caused by N-propyl disulfide changing enzymes in the red blood cells. The anaemia was reversible.

An important point to note from the study is that horses will voluntarily consume amounts of garlic sufficient to cause anaemia – they will not self-regulate

As with all herbal remedies, care must be taken regarding both dosage and the length of time the herb is administered. Most things are toxic in the wrong quantities or chronic feed.

There have also been anecdotal reports of stomach issues caused by garlic killing off good bugs in the stomach.

In Conclusion

However, the overall consensus from hundreds of years is that using garlic for horses is highly beneficial if administered correctly.

Natural Horse Wormer: Verm-x

horse wormer image

There are many more “pro’s than “cons” for using a natural horse wormer, provided that the worm burden is monitored and field are well managed – regular poo picking

Natural Horse Wormer Pro’s & Con’s

Horse worms are becoming increasingly resistant to chemicals, as companies encourage us to overuse horse wormer in pursuit of profit.

With regular poo-picking, natural wormers can be a real alternative to chemicals.

Alternatively, they can operate in tandem with a chemical wormer. For example, some owners will use a chemical wormer annually for encysted redworms, but throughout the year use a natural wormer.

Monitoring the worm burden is still essential – click here to find out how

Below are some overall pro’s and con’s of “natural wormers” with specific reference to internet research conducted on the Verm-x product.

Gentle on horses stomachPossibly not so good for dealing with severe infestations that require a “big hit”.
Easy to administer – horses like it and therefore do not “spit” or resist a syringeRequires diligent pasture management (poo picking) to be effective
Suitable for pregnant animals
Risk of overdose or contamination very small – contains natural ingredients
No adverse reaction, such as weight loss or hoof rings
Suitable for horses allergic to other wormer
Can be cheaper that chemical wormers
Better for the environment and does not perpetuate chemical resistance

Not  really a “Con”, but readers should note that because this is a natural product it does not require a pharmaceutical license and therefore cannot be described as a horse wormer in any advertising literature

Horse worms are becoming increasingly resistant to chemicals

Parasitic resistance to wormers, resulting from the overuse of chemical horse wormers,  is becoming a growing problem.

Horse owners have been encouraged by the big pharmaceutical companies to regularly dose horses every 6 to 8 weeks all year round. This approach ignores any impact of good pasture management, climate, and worm biology & life cycles.

Increasing resistance in redworm populations, particularly the small redworms (Strongyles) to wormers of the Benzimadole group, has been confirmed by the Moredun Research Institute.

Pinworms (Oxyuris equi) are also a growing problem. UK livery yards report many horses are carrying heavy burdens of pinworms immune to conventional wormers.

Routinely deworming with chemicals kills all worms susceptible to chemical & bacterial wormers. However, this leaves the resistant worms to lay eggs and multiply unchecked.

By concentrating high doses of chemicals on worms resident in the horse, a gene pool of super-resistant worms has evolved that are resistant to both chemical and bacterial wormers.

After each deworming cycle, their resistance increases, ultimately leading to your pasture infected by a strain of super worms resistant to chemicals.

A super-worm infected pasture has severe health implications for horses with conditions such as anaemia, gut ulceration, colic etc.

Should I Use a Natural or Chemical Horse Wormer?

The consequence of this overselling and overdosing has been the development of super-resistant horse worms. The simple truth is that horses do not need to be dosed all year round every 6 to 8 weeks to be worm free.

Rotational Deworming With Chemicals

In recent years, rotational deworming (by using drugs of different classes for each deworming) has been promoted as a method to overcome resistance.

In America and Northern Europe, resistance to two of the three dewormer drug classes – Benzimidazoles (i.e. Fenbenzadole and Oxibendazole) and Pyrimidines (i.e. Pyrantel) is increasing.

There have also been reports of resistance to macrocyclic lactones (Ivermectin, Moxidectin) in Europe and Brazil.

No longer can we rely on rotational worming to kill all horse worms. Alarmingly, these three classes of chemical dewormers are the only parasite killing drugs (anthelmintics), the pharmaceutical companies have to offer.

A New, Natural Approach to Effective Worm Control

Responsible horse owners worm their horse, seasonally and, on well-managed pasture, significant worm burdens are not a problem.

Given the increasing immunity to chemicals, it is critical to not only worm your horse but to follow deworming with a faecal egg worm count, in spring and winter. An ELISA blood test, done in autumn following deworming will determine the presence of tapeworm.

Faecal egg worm counts are vital to determine worm burden but do not indicate the presence of tapeworms.

To check the level of tapeworm infestation in your horse, you will need to ask your veterinary surgeon to do an ELISA blood test to measures the level of antibody to a specific tapeworm antigen.

Focus on Big Worm Picture

Future measures to control the parasite burden on pasture will need to focus on the bigger picture, the factors outside the horse that influence horse worm populations

Worm Biology

Breaking the continuous life cycle by removing faeces, you destroy eggs waiting to hatch, effectively reducing the numbers of L3 infective larvae ingested by your horse. Yes, pooh picking weekly at a minimum (we poo pick daily).

Climate & Temperature

Using climate & temperature to determine whether your horse may need deworming. The life cycle of horse worms, the climate requirements and conditions for successful hatching and survival will determine your worming schedule. See the article “Establishing a Worming Programme”


Deworm for redworm larvae as soon as night temperatures dip under 10°C and before ground frost becomes a reality. Expel them before they start to encyst and overwinter. Don’t bother to do a Faecal Egg Count, because immature larvae don’t lay eggs.

Introducing Horses to the Herd

Isolate all new horses until dewormed, and FEC count results clear them. Care must be taken not to introduce horses from yards with known resistant worm strains.

Responsible Pasture Management

The removal of faeces, harrowing in hot weather and rotation of grazing, all help to break the red worm life cycle.

Improving Forage

Seeding pasture with tannin-rich forage such as sainfoin, birdsfoot trefoil, yarrow, chamomile, wild marjoram. Don’t grub out old hedges full of natural dewormers such as bramble tips, rose hips, crab apples and elder shoots. Horses will instinctively pick out the shoots.

Herbal Horse Wormer

Consider using traditional herbal wormers to stop the build-up of resistant worm strains, usually referred to as “Internal Parasite Repellents”.

Herbal products can be useful if your horse will not accept the syringe based delivery straight into the mouth,  required by a number of chemical products. They can also be good if your horse has sensitive digestion.

Vary the type of wormer used, alternating chemical wormers (that you have proven effective after monitoring worm counts) with herbal parasite repellent products such as Verm-x.

Carefully document all worm test results. Successive high FEC’s, indicate a resident population of super-resistant worms.

Natural Worming Product – Verm-X

Verm-X is a natural horse wormer that has been on the market now for over 15 years. It has been formulated because of the resistance concerns raised in this article. In the video below, Dr Sarah Beynon talks about the overuse of pharmaceutical wormers and their impact on the natural environment, including killing off the dung beetle population.

  • Contains natural ingredients: Garlic, Cinnamon, Common Thyme, Peppermint, Fennel, Cleavers, Nettle, Slippery Elm, Quassia, Elecampane
  • It works over a 21 days cycle, rather than an immediate purge, as with chemical products. This is more gentle on the horse’s stomach
  • Can be mixed into food and water, so administering this has a minimal impact – especially if you have a stressy horse

Interestingly, the company reports no instances of resistance to Verm-X.

Nettle Supplement For Horses

Nettle Supplement For Horses Picture

The Stinging Nettle

Nettle Supplement For Horses Picture

A plant so common that it is found on nearly every piece of waste ground, yet a nettle supplement for horses can be really helpful, as it has been for humans since anglo saxon times.

Nettles (Urtica dioica) accumulate large quantities of nitrogen, calcium, silica, iron, phosphates and vitamins B, C & K.

This explains their reputation in reducing painful inflammation as seen in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in humans.

Despite their vicious sting from the formic acid on the leaves when growing (easily relieved with the juice of a dock or plantain leaf crushed in the hand, or a drop or two of pure Lavender essential oil), they are one of our most valuable mineral herbs.

When cut and dried, the nettle loses its sting and becomes a really useful feed supplement.

If you look at a horse grazing, it will not eat live nettles but once cut will quickly hoover them up.

Benefits of Nettles

Containing healthy amounts of iron, vitamin C (an anti-oxidant), chlorophyll and histamine, nettles are primarily diuretic and blood cleansing agents, eliminating uric acid from the body. 

A nettle supplement for horses also acts as an overall tonic, containing essential minerals such as calcium and potassium, typically fed in the springtime to support the horse after a hard winter, especially if living out, and to prepare for the usual increased use and competition in the summer.

Overall benefits are:

  • Overall Tonic
  • Improved Blood Supply
  • Support Healthy Coat
  • Kidneys And Urinary Tract
  • Allery Resistance

Blood Supply

Nettles compared weight for weight with spinach are far richer in iron and used to alleviate anaemia.

Iron is important for the production of red blood cells and the transportation of oxygen through the body via haemoglobin. 

The presence of vitamin K also gives nettles anti-haemorrhagic qualities. Nettle root contains sitosterols useful in controlling benign prostate hyperplasia.

Nettles also can be used as a sugar balancer to prevent sugar highs and lows, which horses are prone to at certain times of the year, for example, as fructose level in grass increases in the springtime.


Linked to issues of blood supply, nettles are often used to promote a healthy dappled coat.

Kidneys And Urinary Tract

Nettles are a mild diuretic and can help maintain regulation and loss of body fluids, which can include flushing through toxins.

The diuretics effect can also be of use when reducing inflammation.

Resistance To Allergy

What Is The Best Nettle Supplement For Horses?

Dried nettles are best for horses

The sting in the leaves is due to histamine that can be easily destroyed with drying.

Feeding Nettles As A Supplement

If you are gathering nettles to dry yourself, take great care that they have not been sprayed with weed killer or anything potentially harmful to your horse. Also, of course, take care that you haven’t gathered up any other plant that could be harmful to your horse such as ragwort and groundsel.

Nettles can be cut, spread out on a baking tray and dried in the oven at 70 0 C for an hour or so. Keep the dried nettles in an airtight tin and add to your horse’s mash feed.

Typically one might feed 10g /day to a pony and twice that (20g) to a horse, according to body weight.


Any nettle allergy is most likely to be related to the live plant ( i.e. being stung!), however, there have been some cases reported where horses have come up in hives. Also, constipation has been reported as a side-effect.

As with all dietary changes, introduce carefully and monitor closely.

Calendula For Horses

Calendula for horses - marigold
Calendula for horses - marigold

Calendula (Marigold)

Calendula is an annual herb native to southern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean, naturalised in many parts of the United States. The uses of Calendula for horses are set out below.

A fast-growing bushy annual with an angular branched stem and a pithy hollow core 30 –60cm high. The leaves are pale green, lance-shaped, sticky and strongly aromatic. The plant has single daisy-like flowerheads, bright orange in colour with ligulate florets 13 – 25mm long and about 3mm broad.

So named from Latin Calends, meaning the first day of the month, because it flowers continuously from May to October. 

It is believed that it originated in Egypt and was used as a rejuvenating herb. 

During the American Civil War, field doctors used Calendula leaves to dress surgical wounds with documented success.

A Word Of Caution

Do not confuse Pot marigold (Calendula species) with the French marigold (Tagetes patula) or the African marigold (Tagetes erecta).

Both species of Tagetes are used as insecticides and weed killers.

Medicinal Uses of Calendula for Horses

For medicinal purposes, the leaves, whole flower heads or petals alone are used. Only the deep orange varieties have the carotenoid lutein present in the petals, giving antioxidant and tissue forming medicinal qualities. 

Calendula is the herb of choice for wounds and bruising.

Calendula for horses is often combined with Clivers (Marigold) as a tonic and to support the lymphatic system.

Traditionally known as ‘the homoeopathic antiseptic’, wounds treated with calendula extracts healed cleanly and rapidly without one drop of pus.his has been recently backed up by research confirming

Calendula’s anti-bacterial properties against Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus faecalis both commonly found on the skin and in the nares and throat, using a dry hydroethanolic extract.

It has the following properties:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antiseptic
  • Antibacterial
  • Anti-fungal
  • Spasmolytic
  • Antihaemorrhagic
  • Styptic
  • Vulnerary
  • Astringent.

How to Apply Calendual To Wounds and Bruises

As with all natural herbs, care must be taken when using Calendula for horses, with any change administered slowly. Its use for various applications are set out below

Disinfect WoundsCompresses soaked in 90% tincture can be used to staunch bleeding. The 90% tincture is used neat or diluted with an equal part of previously boiled cold water to disinfect wounds and stitching.
Healing OintmentAn ointment containing 5%calendula oil or tincture is used to promote rapid healing with granulation and epithelization of new tissue. This is mainly due to the carotenoid pigments in lutien found only in the deep orange petals of Calendula officinalis, the other garden varieties lack this quality. Recent studies confirm the medicinal activity
Healing TinctureHerbal Wound Glue” 1:5 90% alcohol using flowerheads and leaves to extract the resinous qualities. The resinous fraction being ‘herbal wound glue’ to mend wounds, seal inflamed surfaces and suffocate bacteria. Use neat on wounds and sores as an antiseptic. Dilute with an equal part of water to use for internal bacteria.
Flower petals in 1: 5 25% alcohol. This is used internally as an immune stimulant and anti-oxidant, stimulates the liver into bile production, mild oestrogens help regulate irregular seasons in mares.
Fresh flowerhead or leaf/juice: can be rubbed straight onto midge bites and bee stings for instant relief.
Hoof Oil & Mud FeverInfused calendula oil with added tea tree can be used as a hoof oil to treat infection of the frog, particularly thrush. The anti-fungal properties also make calendula oil, a useful addition to ointments for mud fever.

Infusion: 30gms of petals and leaves to a pint of boiling water, steep 15 minutes, then strain. Use cold as a local application for bruising and swelling. Calendula assists local action and prevents suppuration.
Eye InflammationDecoction: Calendula petals for inflamed gritty and sore eyes.

Using a stainless steel pan take 30gms of the petals, add 500mls water, bring to the boil, simmer 10 minutes, strain and cover. Leave to cool. Use cold to bathe the eyes.

Further Information

[1] Dumenil G et al., Evaluation of antibacterial properties of marigold flowers (Calendula officinalis) and other homeopathic tinctures of Calendula officinalis Re: Annual Pharm French 1980
[2] The anti-inflammatory activity has been demonstrated in two studies of mice Akihisa et al., 1996 Triterpene alcohols from the flowers of Compositae and their anti-inflammatory effects.
[3] Zitter-Eglseer et al., 1997 Anti-oedematous activities of the main trierpenoid esters of marigold ( Calendula officinalis)
[4] Surgically induced wounds treated with an ointment containing 5% calendula extract showed marked physiological regeneration and epithelialization Klouchek-Popova et al., 1982 Influence on Physiological Regeneration and Epithelization Using Fractions Isolated from Calendula Officinalis


British Herbal Compedium Vol 2 – 2006

Professional Handbook of Complementary & Alternative Medicines – Charles Feltrow, Pharm D Juan R.Avila, PharmD

Dandelion For Horses

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The Dandelion

The Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinalis) is very common in Europe, North America and Asia, where it grows quite prolifically.

Often considered a weed by gardeners, dandelion for horses can be a valuable resource.

Sometimes called horse lettuce, dandelion comes into flower in Spring, flowering from April to November.

It is a storehouse of minerals especially rich in iron, copper and potash (potassium) and magnesium.

Benefits Of Dandelion For Horses

Dandelion for horses is a real treat.

It contains many vitamins (A to E and K) and contains more vitamin A and C than most other vegetables and fruit.

The leaves have a proven reputation in relieving fluid retention whether due to heart oedema or an excess of sodium and, therefore, can help to relieve high blood pressure.

The copper content in dandelion is essential for horses because it activates zinc in the body. This naturally occurring zinc then helps heal wounds, support fertility, and stimulates white blood cell production.

It contains antioxidants, which is good for overall wellbeing and promotes healthy liver

Medical Use Of Dandelions For Horses

Dandelion is a diuretic and can be used to “flush” the system.

They can also be used to sooth some stomach complaints, but please read the cautionary note below.

The high iron content of both leaves and root helps to combat anaemia. The root is used as a liver remedy especially useful in relieving bilious disorders.

Gut health may also be improved as dandelion stimulates movement of the gastrointestinal tract, hence helping digestion.

It is also used for its vitamin C content in supplements used to treat COPD.

Traditionally in Spring, the young leaves have been used in salads to stimulate and cleanse the digestive system, the blood and the kidneys. 

Equally, they can be used as an overall well being enhancing supplement, especially if only feeding hay or natural grazing is very limited.

A Word Of Caution

Dandelions have high levels of Fructan, a polymer of the sugar Fructose, making them unsuitable for horses sensitive to sugar such as lamanitics or those will stomach ulcers

Dandelion should not be fed to mares in foal.

Feeding Dandelion

Encourage the dandelion to flourish in your pastures; it is non-poisonous and entirely beneficial. A few leaves shredded into a mash feed can only improve your horse’s health.

Typically one would feed approx. 40g to a 500kg horse, but as always please consult the product supplier

Clivers and Marigold

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CClivers and Marigold - page

Clivers and Marigold are discussed together on this page as they are often combined both for the best effect and in commercial products. Calendula (Pot Marigold) alone is discussed elsewhere.

Clivers (Cleavers) – Galium Aparine

The Clivers plant, sometimes written as Cleavers, and colloquially knows as Goosegrass, grows abundantly on hedgebanks, waste ground, cornfields and shingle.

It is found throughout the cold temperate regions of Northern Europe and Northern America.

The Anglo Saxon called Clivers, ‘hedgerife’, meaning a tax-gatherer or robber due to the fine bristles catching onto clothes, as you pass by. This sticky annual has straggling soft growth up to 2ft tall, covered in fine bristles to catch onto passers-by. The leaves are lanceolate about ½ inch long and ¼ inch broad, arranged in whorls of six or eight together. The flowers in small stalked clusters of two or three spring from the axils of the leaves, they are small star-like, white or greenish-white in colour. 

What Are The Medical Benefits Of Clivers And Marigold?

Clivers and Marigold help both the lymphatic and the digestive systems.

Clivers is an excellent lymphatic tonic and detoxifier, diuretic, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory due to its gallon content, and as a mild astringent. It is rich in minerals especially calcium, sodium, iodine, and copper. Further details of its constituents can be found here.

Think of Clivers as green iodine for all lymphatic swelling, lymphangitis, suppressed urine, or as part of an overall Detox formula.

It improves lymphatic drainage so is used to reduce fluid in the legs, and the associated swelling. Clivers and Marigold are often used for horses on box rest or requiring restricted grazing.

Lymphatic improvements can also improve hoof health.

Compression bandages are also used in conjunction with the nutritional support from Clivers and Marigold herbs to reduce swelling.

It has also been reported to have been effective on windgalls and lymphangitis, along with the appropriate veterinary treatment.

Feeding Clivers and Marigold

For those busy horse owners without access, or time to gather fresh Clivers,. There are horse supplements containing Cleavers available. These are often combined with Marigold, which are regarded as complementary herbs.

There is a general assumption that Clivers and Marigold will be fed together, given that they are complementary herbs.

Typically one would feed approx 30g/day to a 500kg horse.

A Word Of Caution

Clivers is a potent diuretic and should not be used for horses suffering from insulin resistance or laminitis due to excessive sugars in the blood, as this will cause a higher concentration of sugar in the blood and worsen the condition.

Because Clivers is a potent diuretic exceeding the recommended dose could cause dehydration. Yes, your horse can have too much Clivers.

Feeding Clivers to Your Horse

Below is some further information if you need to feed Clivers alone, and particularly if there is an abundant natural supply locally.

However, it has to be said that most busy horse owner might find the “DIY” approach too much hassle. Also, there is comfort in using a commercially prepared product with clear feeding instructions, and sometimes some telephone support if you are uncertain.

Grow Your Own?

Horses instinctively seek this herb out, eagerly devouring the young shoots so you could consider planting Clivers along the hedge line.

To establish Clivers in a new or established hedgerow, harvest the wild seeds in September and plant along the hedge line for early spring growth. Cleavers once established will be there forever!

Clivers can be harvested from the onset of flowering in May through to September. Medicinally only the aerial parts (everything above ground), not the roots are used. In Europe, Cleavers is wild harvested for medicinal purposes.

Clivers As A Tonic

Clivers alone makes an excellent tonic for all lymphatic problems especially following viral infections such as strangles. Combine with other lymphatic and detoxifying herbs as a lymph cleanser.

Juice: Liquidize or pulp the fresh plant into juice. Give 30 mls of juice per 100kgs, 150mls per 500kgs. Twice daily over feed or dilute with an equal amount of (previously boiled) cooled water and syringe down throat.

Dried: Use dried Cleavers 5 to 10 grams per 75 kilos body weight. Not as strong as the fresh juice or tincture, but can be used to good effect for urinary problems.

We have said this above, but again please note that you should not overfeed Clivers.

Chamomile for Horses

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Chamomile, sometimes written Camomile, is the name given to various members of the daisy family of flowers used for many purposes. Chamomile for horses is often used as a natural calmer.

Of this family, it is German Matricaria Chamomilla and Roman Chamaemelum Nobile Chamomile that is used both in herbal tea and in alternative treatments.

Used in medicines now for thousands of years, it is an annual flowering plant containing magnesium phosphate, calcium phosphate and potassium phosphates. It has been called the European Ginseng. Dried Chamomile flowers contain many terpenoids and flavonoids, which give it some of its natural therapeutic properties.

As with many natural supplements, demand for Chamomile products is increasing and is therefore cultivated in Europe. It grows well in most soils, with the exception of heavy, damp soils.

It has traditionally been used to treat muscle and gastric problems, as well as treating insomnia.

Chamomile for horses is essentially the same as that used for humans – noting increased hygiene stands required for human food consumption.

Benefits Of Chamomile For Horses

  • Muscle relaxant
  • Calmer
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Astringent

Chamomile is a mild relaxant, with the additional benefits of having anti-inflammatory and anti-diarrheal qualities.

Its relaxant properties are primarily used for calming excitable horses. However, it is also good for digestive problems that are anxiety-based.

Chamomile’s high magnesium levels will have a beneficial impact on taught muscles

Camomile can, therefore, be used as a horse calmer to help with difficult to handle or anxious horses or to calm a nervous gut.

Nervous StomachCan help with “stressy poos”, particularly if you are introducing a change of activity or environment to a horse that is prone to stress
ColicAs said elsewhere, should be administered as part of an overall veterinary care programme
General AnxietyCan help with overall anxiety, though note that this should not be a permanent option – see cautionary notes below. Also, consider other types of therapy to tackle nervousness. This could be more regular exercise, exposure therapy, clicker training etc.
Wounds and InflammationChamomile has astringent properties and can be made into a tea (approx 10 grammes/litre)

A Word Of Caution When Using Chamomile For Horses

It is not a “cure-all” for a difficult or flighty horse but used as one key element of a holistic assessment of any behavioural problem.

The possibility of pain should be eliminated before pursuing any herbal remedy. This is discussed further in this article.

However, it must be realised that Chamomile is a mild calmer and issues such as colic should be immediately referred to a qualified veterinary practitioner.

Some people feeding Chamomile have reported that it creates itchy skin.

Given it is a mild sedative, if competing, you should always check current in force rules, although a horse could naturally ingest Chamomile as part of normal grazing.

There are internet discussions where people have added Chamomile tea to horse feed. However, using this approach, the dose cannot be measured. Anecdotal reports have been that in some cases the horse turned into a “complete plod”, or conversely had little effect. The overall consensus seems to be that Chamomile for horses actually works, which corroborates man’s collective experience over thousands of years.

Feeding Chamomile

Typically, a handful/cupful is added to feed, typically 30g and 50g of the herb a day will help a horse that is prone to loose manure – an indicator of anxiety.

Long term use should be avoided, as Chamomile has toxicity issues for long term use.

As with all natural remedies, care must be taken about doses and administration, and any change introduced gradually

Horse Calmer Products

There are a number of commercial supplements additives that include Chamomile that have been formulated for specific animals, e.g. geldings and stallions, mares.

These can be in pellet or powder format and easily administered. Commercially prepared horse calmer additives also have the benefit of having detailed dosage and feeding instructions.