WHOLE HORSE APPROACH
Natural Health Care for Horses
Wanting the best for your horse is a general wish for most horse owners, but what is the best? The best should include a holistic view of the horse - their welfare is dependent on their nutritional, social, physical, and mental needs. Making sure that your accounting for all of your horses needs will equal great health care for your equine! I'll list some general basics for all equines below, but I also offer consultations for customized plans via phone or video chat. If your horse has any health issues, it is best to seek advice from a professional.
-Organic is best! Trying to reduce your horses exposure to chemicals through their food is a great way to ensure a strong immune system and healthy body.
-HORSES ARE HERBAVORES! So by definition they are designed to eat plant material like grasses, bark, "weeds", leafs, roots, and etc. In fact, what most of us call weeds have actual uses in herbal medicine! Example: Dandelions have detoxing, blood cleansing, anti-inflammatory, and many other properties for us and animals. So having a broad diet of different types of plants is a great thing for your horse.
-A horse consumes about 2lbs of forage an hour. Most horses should eat 18-24lbs of forage a day.
-Grazing actually helps your horses health! While grazing, they chew in a circular motion wearing down their teeth as they go. The chewing actually helps relieve mental stress and pressure in their head down helps stretch the topline. Grazing also promotes healthy physical movement, socializing with the herd, provides mental stimulation, and so many more great benefits!
-If grazing isn't an option for your horse: having good, clean, grass hay available at all times is next best. Make sure to feed your hay on or close to the ground (in a natural position), keep it dry and out of the elements (especially in storage), and throwing out just enough for one night is recommended.
-Many natural vets recommend not feeding commercial feeds, but instead feeding whole oats. This cuts down on the amount of chemicals, fillers, and over used supplements/vitamins/minerals your horse comes in contact with.
-Whole oats are about 50% magnesium which horses have 900 uses for! Magnesium is an important building block for a healthy body by making cells permeable so they can absorb other minerals/vitamins/proteins/etc. Without enough magnesium - it doesn't matter how many good things go in, they can't do their job.
-A little bit of wheat or rice bran goes a long way. The bran mash adds more water into the gut, helps with digestion, and allows the added supplements to stick and not be blown off the oats.
-When I switched from a local mixed feed to whole oats/bran, I was able to feed less of it with even better results.
-Fresh clean water is very important for your horse to have access to. It may seem like a good idea to fill a trough up all the way to save time, but the water can quickly become stagnant, take on different tastes and smells, and collect debris/algae. Only giving enough water for each day will help insure that it's staying fresh.
-Keeping the tank out of the sun will slow down the growth of algae which can cause health problems.
-Make sure that you're using safe methods of cleaning your trough. Dumping the water trough and cleaning with baking soda and salt is a safe and health way to clean it. If algae has built up, letting it sit out in the sun to dry before filling will help.
-Offering a separate bucket of alkaline water to horses can help with many issues from ulcers and illness to performance recovery. Alkaline water helps balance the pH level in the gut for improved immunity and health. If you wish to make your own water alkaline you can add baking soda and fresh lemon juice to the bucket of water.
Salts and Supplements
-Nature provides the best sources of vitamins and minerals, along with the best way to use and absorb them along with their natural forms. You should provide rock salt for your horse to have free access to, especially in the summer when horses sweat out a lot of vitamins/minerals.
-There are many whole foods and herbs that provide support for digestion, ulcers, arthritis, and much more! Using the whole food or herb often provides multiple benefits, rather than a chemically altered type of supplement.
-There are natural and healthy ways of deworming your horse that offer added benefits as well - for example adding garlic can kill worms and repel flying/biting insects.
-All of my horses get coconut oil poured onto their feed daily. Coconut oil is great for gut health, healthy source of fat, and is a natural anti bacterial, viral, fungal.
Daily Diet for my Herd
-Free choice of a natural pasture containing grasses, clover/legumes, herbs, trees, hedgerows, and etc. The horses are kept in a "smaller" area containing these things - and are turned out on to bigger/more lush pastures from limited hours each day.
-Free choice of hay - this is low in sugar, mostly grass hay, with very little alfalfa in it.
Then my "feed":
-whole oats -chia seeds -flax seeds -sunflower seeds -papaya leaf -then one of the following: alfalfa leaf, nettle leaf, dandelion leaf -fenugreek -bladderwrack -spirulina -coconut oil
Additions could be: apple cider vinegar and/or soaked alfalfa pellets, herbs for specific conditions
-Free access to fresh water (heated in winter)
-Free access to redmond and himalayan rock salts
-I feel it's also important to note that my herd is kept together 24/7 with free choice of shelter. They choose to stay together - they have many acres they could spread out on, but prefer the herd because they are horses!