In a nutshell, yes herbs MAY be beneficial for SOME horses and in SOME circumstances!
We certainly can’t tell you that herbs WILL cure an ailment or will definitely produce a specific result.
However! Herbs can be useful for our horses health (and our own for that matter!).
They SHOULD ALWAYS be used after Veterinary or medical advice has been sought – and generally with the assistance of a qualified Herbalist or Naturopath etc.
Some herbs are fairly harmless and at worst, won’t have any affect whatsoever – however other herbs can be incredibly strong and powerful and therefore detrimental when used in the wrong situations.
And if you compete or participate in any form of horse sport or competition – always check whether a herb is legal for use, as some are not!
Therefore the decision to feed a herb to horse, pet OR human should be done with caution.
So, what are the main herbs – and what might they ‘help’ your horse with?
Chamomile is ‘thought’ to have a calming affect on horses. Individual results may vary, and you may or may not notice any significant difference in your horses behaviour or temperament.
But even so – Chamomile is soothing and calming and is also considered beneficial for the stomach – and may assist a tense horse who may be prone to Colic.
I know I love a nice cup of Chamomile Tea in the evenings – but I’m known for being slightly strange :p
Rosehips are ‘thought’ to be useful as a natural joint supplement with anti-inflammatory properties, and also as a source of Vitamin C – and therefore possibly helpful to the immune system.
Again – there is research for and against – and those who swear by them or swear off them!
Slippery Elm is ‘thought’ to be useful in soothing coughs, sore throats and stomach ulcers – both for horses AND people.
In horses, it may indeed be useful in helping to manage ulcers alongside standard medication and treatments – however care must be taken that it doesn’t interfere with other medical treatments.
(Funnily enough, I have taken Slippery Elm myself to help soothe my tummy and found that it has worked for me!)
Devils Claw is often reported as being a bit of a miracle substance for joint pain – and I’ve come across several people who’ve reported they’ve had great success with giving it to horses, dogs and people.
These are obviously just a few that I’ve randomly chosen as examples – there are plenty more herbs which are said to be helpful for a wide range of health issues.
But to wrap the herb debate up – herbs can be really useful – just don’t pin your hopes on them for a ‘miracle cure’.
Do lots of research, and if you want to give them a go – do so with both an open mind and low expectations.
Unfortunately, what works for one person or one horse, no matter how strongly they may recommend something – may not always work for you and your horse!
And always seek expert advice – just in case a particular herb IS NOT suitable for your horse, pet or yourself. Like any other medication or treatment, there are very specific uses and contradictions – and just because something might be ‘natural’ doesn’t always mean that it’s always safe or a good idea.
P.S If you've done your research, and consulted a medical professional, you can find our range of Walkenny Park Herbs Here!