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.
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
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 Stomach||Can help with “stressy poos”, particularly if you are introducing a change of activity or environment to a horse that is prone to stress|
|Colic||As said elsewhere, should be administered as part of an overall veterinary care programme|
|General Anxiety||Can 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 Inflammation||Chamomile 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.
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.