Should I Feed Herbal Supplements to My Horse?
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Should I Feed Herbal Supplements to My Horse?

Over the years there has been a real boom in herbal supplements not only for horses but other animals and humans too. A lot of horse owners know the value of feeding a herbal supplement to their horses on a regular basis. Garlic being one of the most popular supplements that many people give their horses because it helps reduce fly problems during the warmer summer months.However, garlic fed as supplement to horses on a regular basis does far more that help reduce fly problems. It has some wonderful blood purifying properties and contains valuable vitamin B6 as well as being rich in sulphur. Combined with vitamin C, garlic can be particularly useful in helping respiratory problems in horses.

Lots of Choice In Herbal Supplements

Today horse owners are rather spoilt for choice when it comes to herbal mixtures all of which have been specifically made up for equine use. Many horse feed specialists have their own herbal departments which are run by highly trained managers. These managers have their fingers on the pulse when it comes to knowing about any research that's being carried out on particular herbs and their potential usefulness when fed to horses as a supplement. Feeding herbs to horses on a regular basis does help maintain overall health and this is particularly true of horses and ponies that do not have access to well maintained natural pastures. A horse that enjoys grazing good quality grass will normally find the right amount of vitamins and minerals they need to maintain good overall health. This naturally means horses should not need to have any herbal supplements added to their feed if they have access to well maintained natural meadow grasses.Unfortunately in these modern times, most horses just don't get the enough access to good quality pastures rich in meadow grasses. A lot of the time paddocks have been sprayed with chemicals to keep weeds and other unwanted plants down. This means a lot of the goodness of an 'old' style paddock rich in clovers and other meadow grasses are no longer present for horses to eat. As such feeding herbal supplements to a horse can replace what they are not getting naturally out at grass.

The Benefits of Feeding a Biotin Supplement

The same can be said of horses that get to graze good quality grass, they would probably not need to be given a biotin supplement. However, a horse with dry and cracked feet will certainly benefit from being fed a biotin mix supplement on a regular basis over a period of time.Farriers often recommend that owners start feeding their horses this supplement to help improve the condition of the horn and this is especially true of horses who just can't keep their shoes on due to the condition of their feet.However, biotin if fed on it's own would have not any real value to horses whereas when combined with calcium, zinc and methionine then the benefits are tremendous and hoof regrowth greatly enhanced. Horses do not generally suffer from a biotin deficiency alone because they do tend to get enough naturally from sources like alfalfa and to a lesser extent from barley, soya bean meal as well as oats.The thing to remember is that horses cannot store vitamin B for long periods of time in their bodies because it is a water soluble vitamin. Horses will pass out any excess amounts of it in their urine, which means it is hard to feed too much of the vitamin to horses.

What About Herbal Supplements That Support The Digestive System?

Certain herbs can really help maintain a horse's digestive system which is delicate and has to be well-balanced so the 'good' bacteria can flourish and the harmful ones removed. There are some good herbal blends available that support the digestive system extremely effectively and which contain ingredients such as Psyllium seed taken from a plant native to India. Horses recovering from an illness can benefit from a herbal supplement which helps them when they need that little bit of extra support.

Are There Any Herbs That Help With Respiratory Problems?

Many horse owners today have to deal with respiratory disorders and there many reasons why horses do suffer from all sorts of breathing problems. It could be due to bad quality hay, or it could be that a horse has caught a virus or a cold. Horses can demonstrate chronic conditions that cause real concern but whatever the reason, a respiratory condition can be debilitating for the horse.Apart from veterinary medicines, there are also some very useful herbal supplements available that do help with certain respiratory conditions. Herbal blends containing garlic, boneset, garlic, chamomile, hyssop and white horehound are particularly useful when treating a chronic respiratory disease.

Herbs That Help Maintain the Immune System

One very useful herb that supports the immune system is echinacea. This valuable herb has also been proven to increase the number of red bloods cells which in turn may help improve the amount of oxygen that's carried in the blood. For performance horses this can prove to be extremely beneficial when they are asked to do intensive work making recovery time that much shorter.

It is Not Only Older Horses That Suffer From Arthritis

This is a very painful condition that sadly affects younger horses as well as the older ones. Horses as young as three can suffer from the condition which means finding a way to make life more comfortable for them is really important.Herbal blends of dandelion, burdock, nettle, comfrey and devil's claw have been shown to be extremely beneficial when it comes to alleviating a lot of the discomfort horses of all ages feel when they suffer from arthritis.For a long time devil's claw has been used in countries like Germany as a natural alternative to Bute. However, with this said horse owners should always discuss using devil's claw as a replacement to Phenylbutazone, which is an NSAID, with their vets before going ahead and doing it.

A Well Balanced Diet Together with Herbal Supplements Equals Success

Ultimately, a horse thrives on a well balanced diet, not unlike ourselves. Adding a well thought out herbal supplement plan to add to their feeds can certainly be beneficial for a horse's overall well-being. It could be that a horse needs a supplement to support their immune system, respiratory tract, urinary system or digestive system and this is something owners need to decide on with the help of their farriers and vets.The thing to remember is that with herbs nothing happens fast – it takes time for the benefits of feeding a herbal supplement to show but once it has taken hold in the system, the difference will be very noticeable. Have you as a horse owner tried any particular herbal blend and have you seen any improvements in your horse?

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