A list of some common plants which have proved effective in treating equine ailments.

Arnica

  • Excellent anti-inflammatory and stimulant – for external use only.
  • Can be used to treat wounds, bruises, shock and muscle pain.
  • Arnica tincture mixed with water or distilled witch hazel can be used as a general wash-down lotion on tired muscles and legs.

    Dandelion

  • Root stimulates the liver.
  • Leaves act as a diuretic (promotes urination).
  • Cleanses the blood, making it useful for horses with laminitis, skin deseases and rheumatism.
  • Rich in vitaminsA, B, C, and D.
  • Encourages appetite and improves digestion.

    Garlic

  • As an expectorant and antibiotic it helps the lungs get rid of mucous and infection.
  • Antiseptic, anti-parasitic and anti-histamine properties.
  • Cleanses the blood making it a good preventative for horses prone to laminitis, arthritis and sweet itch.
  • Acts as a repellent to biting flies.
  • Juice from a cut bulb can be used to clean bites, stings, ringworm, cuts and tick bites.
  • A poultice of fresh cloves is effective on infected or dirty wounds.

    Kelp

  • Antirheumatic and antibiotic properties.
  • Can be used in compresses to reduce inflammation and arthritic pain.
  • Rich in minerals, including calcium, iodine and potassium, making it useful for horses which have been on poor grazing.

    Lavender

  • An essential oil which must be used externally.
  • Works as a relaxant – rub some oil in your hands when handling a nervous horse – an antispasmodic and antidepressant.
  • Stimulates the circulation, which in turn improves horn growth. (NB essential oils are powerful and should never be used neat on the horse’s skin, particularly around the nostrils.)

    Stinging Nettle

  • Rich in vitamin C, iron, calcium, potassium and dietary fibre.
  • Ability to cleanse the blood makes it useful in treating sweet itch, laminitis, arthritis and rheumatism.
  • Horses do not seem to eat growing nettles, simply cut them, allow to wilt, chop and add to feed.

    Tea Tree

  • Another essential oil, – external use only.
  • Tea tree is an antiseptic, mild disinfectant and fungicide.
  • Aids healing, strengthens the immune system, eases swelling and curbs inflammation.
  • Can be used as a massage oil to help strained, bruised or rheumatic muscles.
  • If your horse has excess mucus, use the oil as an inhalant.
  • Aloe Vera

  • Contains vitamins C and E and B12, various minerals including calcium and potassium.
  • Natural anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-viral and anti-bacterial remedy.
  • Can be used on broken skin as it does not sting.
  • For use on bruises, swellings and insect bites.

    Tips for using herbs:

  • You must identify the species correctly and ensure that it has not come from a sprayed pasture.
  • The horse will dictate how much he needs by eating what he wants and leaving the rest. If the horse goes off the feed it means he doesn’t require the herb any more.
  • Herbal remedies can take a few weeks to work so be patient.
  • Look out for any allergic reactions.
  • Do not keep your horse on herbal remedies indefinitely. For example, for seaonal ailments, such as respiratory problems, use only for a few months.