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COPD in Horses

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.

Symptoms

As with humans, the symptoms can have a range of severity.

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.

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

NAF Respirator is a very popular supplement for a reason.

A natural supplement that really works

 

Causes

COPD 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.

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

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

Remedies for COPD in Horses

Start with essential good practice:

Proper stable management and husbandry is 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 rich in antioxidants, omega 3 and vitamin C provide support to the respiratory system.

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

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. 

Our list of common ailments that affect many horses all fit nicely into this category, take a read.

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.

Garlic for horses
“Good Stinky Garlic” – As described by one of many 5 star reviews

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.

ProsCons
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
Vermex natural horse powder

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”

Frosts

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.

Vermex is available in liquid and powder forms

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
Nettle Supplement For Horses WD

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.

Coat

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.

Allergies

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.

Dandelion For Horses

Dandelion for horses - banner

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.

Dandelion for horses WD

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

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.
Calendula

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

Reference

British Herbal Compedium Vol 2 – 2006

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

Clivers and Marigold

Cleavers and Marigold - feature
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.

Cleavers & Marigold HH

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.

Clivers WD

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

chamomile banner

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.

Chamomile for horses 1kg
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.

Equine Chiropractor

Equine chiropractor image
Equine chiropractor image

What Does An Equine Chiropractor Do?

An equine chiropractor will focus on manipulation of the spine.

This will involve small but high-speed impacts which will stimulate the joints and reflex actions, to deal with any neurological dysfunction of the spinal cord

Manipulation will also address the spinal nerve roots caused by partial dislocation (subluxations) of the vertebral column.

What Is A McTimoney Horse Chiropractor?

McTimoney physical therapy is for the treatment of back pain, arthritis, musculoskeletal injury, gait abnormalities, loss of performance and changes in performance.

This approach was originally developed by John McTimoney, hence the name

Their approach is similar to that of a “normal” equine chiropractor, however, the manipulation used is very gentle, and does not rely on the “impact” approach described above. There is less robust contact between horse and therapist.

The McTimoney Chiropractic Association offices are in Wallingford, South Oxfordshire. Contact by phone: 01491 829211, or go to www.mctimoney-chiropractic.org

Difference Between Horse Chiropractor and McTimoney Chiropractor

Horse ChiropractorMcTimoney Chiropractor
Strong physical contact with the patientGentle manipulation
Wider techniques practisedLimited to McTimoney technique
Theory studied similarTheory studied similar
Required vet permission to treatRequired vet permission to treat

Regulation

Chiropractors are allowed to treat horses once they have been seen by a vet, who is the primary carer. the British Veterinary Chiropractic Association only grants membership to qualified vets.

A practitioner can only call themselves “Chiropractor” if they are a member of the General Chiropractic Council (GCC)

This involves first studying as a human chiropractor and then specialising in animals, specifically horses in this case.

The GCC recognises The McTimoney Chiropractic Association (MCA), which is the regulatory body in the UK that awards a post-grad diploma in animal manipulation.

How Do You Become A McTimoney Chiropractor?

The MCA offers two routes to become a McTimoney chiropractor:

  • Four year study package for those beginning their studies direct from A levels
  • Five year study package which is more flexible for adult learners

For prospectus requests and course-based enquiries, please contact the College’s Course Office & Registry via email: courseoffice@mctimoney-college.ac.uk.

The McTimoney Trust offers courses which can be found here: mctimoneytrust.org

Recommended Reading

As always, it is worth reading around the subject before committing to expensive courses

It is also worth looking at other manipulation and massage style techniques, such as Acupressure, Bowen Therapy and Equine Body Work.

Practitioner Sites

Below are some sites for equine chiropractors:

Anna Hindley will treat your horse or dog in the convenience of their home. Please contact her direct for an appointment in the Staffordshire area. Phone: 07811133170 www.equilibriumchiropractic.co.uk

As a fully qualified McTimoney Chiropractor, nearly all of Gill’s patients are either horses or dogs. Her work covers most of Kent, Surrey and Sussex. To make an appointment phone: 01737 646151  www.gillmaybury.co.uk

Based in County Down, N.Ireland, the Centre of Equine Therapy offers Chiropractic advice Phone: 2892690056  www.equinenaturaltherapy.co.uk

Chris Day, holistic vet offers chiropractic manipulations for animals, at the Alternative Veterinary Medicine Centre, Oxfordshire. Phone: 01367 710324 www.alternativevet.org

Martine Stiles works from her clinic in Newbury, Berkshire but will travel. Martine offers McTimoney for humans, horses and dogs. Phone: 07810433701 For more information visit: www.backinline.co.uk

Liz Harris based in Richmond, travels throughout North Yorkshire, County Durham and Northern England, Liz specialises in a variety of animal therapies – including McTimoney Therapy. Phone: 07707653950  www.lizharris.co.uk

Emma Roberts has over 17 years experience treating both humans and animals. Emma is a registered McTimoney chiropractor, a trained Equine Bowen Therapist and Equine Craniosacral Therapist. Based in Berkshire but will travel throughout the UK, from the Isles of Scotland to the Channel Isles. Phone: 07770933086 www.equinefysio.co.uk

Serena Bower after gaining a MSC degree from the McTimoney College of Chiropractic, offers McTimoney spinal therapy and massage treatment for large and small animals within Dorset and the surrounding counties. www.mctimoneyforanimals.co.uk