Q: I am looking for any suggestions on herbal remedies for my 12-year-old, 15.3hh Irish Draught mare who has recently been kicked in the field by her companion, resulting in a spiral fracture of her radius.
The mare has been confined to her stable for at least six weeks and, despite the fracture, she seems fine in herself. However, she cannot come to terms with having to stay shut in, so is constantly worrying, box walking, and becoming difficult to handle, which is distressing for both of us.
Is there anything I can do to help speed up the healing process of the fracture? And, do you know of a herbal remedy which will help her become calmer and more manageable for the duration of the fracture? I love her dearly andwas hoping to compete for the first time on her this year.
A: Box walking and handling difficulties are typical traits seen among animals kept in captivity. Horses are emotionally very sensitive, social animals and manywill take badly to changes in their routine and separation from other animals in the herd.
Fortunately there are several things you can do to help relieve her boredom. First, provide her with stable distractions such as hanging up a ball toplay with and use a closeweave hay net that makes it more time consuming for her to feed.
Second, try to ensure your mare can see other familiar horses in the yard and give her as much human contact as possible.The most useful natural remedies are likely to be herbal. Valerian, skullcap, vervain, chamomile and Californian poppy all have calming properties without making the animal drowsy.
Commercial mixes are also available, from feed merchants and tack shops.Flower remedies such as Bach Flower Rescue Remedy are ideal, and can be added to her drinking water. This combination of five individual flower remedies will help remove the symptoms of stress.
Other flower remedies include willow for resentment (at being confined), walnut for adaptation to changes and Impatiens (Busy Lizzy) for irritability. Whichever you choose, add about 10 drops to her water each day and give some on a sugar cube at least twice a day.
Also consider aromatherapy oils suchas lavender, jasmine, Roman chamomile, rose and sandalwood – all have relaxing properties. Although expensive, they can be very effective. The best way to dispense them is in an electric vaporisor, which is economical and safe. These mains-powered unitsincorporate a small fan to help the oil evaporate from a pad and fill the stable with fragrance.
Finally, to help speed up the healing process try comfrey, which is well known for helping fractures heal quickly and could be added to any other herbal combination.
Homoeopathic remedies can also help: Calc phos, ruta and symphtum (comfrey in homoeopathic form) are all useful. Use the 30c potency and give one dose per day of the required remedy.