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by Kate Hore RNutr (Animal). Senior Nutritionist at NAF

b K t H RN t

Continuing fromour introduction to commonherbs forhorses, this month we look at four of the best natural health plants forhorses andponies knowntoday.


Thepleasant aroma of mint can improve palatability of feeds,and indeed is widely used to encourage fussy feeders.However mint’sactions arewider reaching than just smelling nice. Mint is also shown to supportthe digestivesystem having acarminative–and seems to be particularly recommended where flatulenceisanissue! Flavonoids presentfurther help the gut by supporting the liver to stimulate bile production.


One of the oldest knownmedicinal herbs,the use of garlic can be traced back toTheCodexEbers, an Egyptian medical papyrus fromabout 1550BC, which included garlic in over twenty different formulae.Garlic’s key chemical componentallicin, an importantsource of natural sulphur,is thoughttoberesponsible formost of its properties.However allicin isn’t entirely on its own.The presenceofvolatile oils,selenium and the vitaminsAand Call combine to make garlic apowerful antioxidant. Garlicmaybeused as adaily supportfor all round general health in horses and ponies,ormorespecifically. For

targeted support, garlic is oftenused forthose showing respiratorystress,and also over summer feeding garlic is traditionally said to help those animals particularly affectedbyinsectmenace. It is thoughtthatconstituents of the pungentsmell exude through skin pores when horses areworking,which flies find unattractive.


Although nativetohedgerowsthroughout England cultivation of hops is mainly confinedtothe South East,with Kentresponsible forthe majorityofUKhop production.While most hops go into brewing,the dried flowersare useful in their ownright.Theprinciple use of hops forhorses is to maintain acalmoutlook.Studies have found thata key constituentwithin hops can acton the centralnervous system, making it an ideal choicefor those showing signs of anxiety.When considering calmers it’s importanttoremember thatthis is oftenamulti-factorial issue.Sowhile we rarely feed hops alone,including them as partofasynergistic blendmayhelp those horses who find the modernequine lifejust all abit toomuch.

Evelyn Simak TEA TREE OIL

Thebeneficial qualities of teatreeoil as an application have beenwell knowninits nativeAustralia for manyhundreds of years.The Australian aborigines,who have inhabited the continentfor at least 40,000 years,use the oil as alocal antiseptic.Early settlers used it forabrasions,cuts,bites,burns,fungal infections and other skin complaints; and topically to supportskinhealth is wherewenowfind teatreeoil useful forour horses. It is advised to only use teatreeoil in commercially prepared products,asthe pureoil,like most essential oils,


is very strong andmaycause blistering on susceptible individuals.Tea tree oil is used effectively on mild cuts and abrasions,fungal attack,and bacterial infections. As with anynew application, it’s recommended to trya small24hour patchtest beforeinitial use.

In conclusion this has been just ashortintroduction to the fascinating area of herbal and plantbased health in horses and ponies,but hopefully givesyou an idea of the wide range of areas wherethey could be useful.

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