With an increasing number of herbs and supplements on the market, choosing the right one for your horse can prove confusing. Leading professionals tell us which natural additives have proved effectivefor them.
Arab jockey and trainer Sarah Kelleway is a fan of NoBute, a supplement based on the root of a plant called harpagophytum procumbens, or devil’s claw. It is recommended for maintaining healthy joints and contains no banned substances.
“I use it on a long-term basis for whichever horses seem to need it,” says Sarah. “I am keen on using herbal remedies for myself, as well as my horses, and there is a lot to be said for avoiding costly and complicated medical treatments if you can. I usually try NoBute when a horse is a bit stiff, after I have had things like its back checked out.”
Horse whisperer Gaynor Davenport often recommends Indian Herbs’ preparations to her clients.
“I find that the company’s approach, with no fillers or additives, has a gentle effect on the whole system. No two horses are alike and it is as if these herbs have different personalities too – they seem to adapt to the needs of the horse more than any other medicine I know.”
Anne Dicker at Catherston Stud has noticed good results with Echinacea. “If a horse is under the weather, it really gives them a boost and seems to help mend most ills,” she says.
Another herbal supplement Anne recommends is Mobility, which is based on comfrey, nettle, dandelion and celery seed. Its effects include anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, diuretic and analgesic.
“One horse, Bill, is about 24 years old, arthritic, and we believe he hadcracked a pastern among other things. His owner had written him off so Candy Burnyeat and I took him on. Candy brought some Mobility back from an event and now Bill is like a new horse.
“I’m not especially “into” alternative medicine, but the old wives’ remedies, like garlic for puffy legs or cod liver oil for coats and joints, really do work.”
So Calm has helped eventer Lucy Thompson cope with Welton Molecule.
“Molecule gets very hyped up before the roads andtracks and the cross-country. He had become very strong and gets to a certain pitch where he simply cannot think straight. I give Molecule So Calm by syringe about two horses before we start. It really takes the edge off him without affecting his performance.”
Endurance riders Graham Hartley and Liz Platts are long-time converts of natural additives.
“Homeopathic products, especially arnica, are widely used in endurance circles,” says Liz.
“Seaweed and Rosehip are excellent for hair and hoof growth, and another product I like is Reflex, which is based on devil’s claw and nettles. My mare’s hocks used to click when she moved, but after six months on Reflex, it stopped. I have also tried it on myself and it seems to help.
“The arnica-based Leg Aid is excellent for drawing heat out of horses legs and taking down swellings after competitions. Sometimes the difference is hard to quantify, but we do notice a change when we stop using the herbal supplements.”
Graham adds: “One thing you have to remember about the herbal feed supplements is that the effect is long-term, so you do not generally see instant results. When a horse grazes in the wild it looks for natural herbs, but now we put them on tended pastures where many herbs have been eradicated.”
Show jumper Tim Stockdale uses Flex Again.
“It is excellent for keeping any swelling down and generally keeping them well oiled,” he says. “We have found it beneficial for all the horses we have tried it on, especially the older ones. Elderly horses do get a bit more swelling and filling in their legs after a day’s jumping, but with Flex Again we’ve really noticed the difference. It’s also legal under co