We have been using natural remedies with our horses and other animals for some time, and we wish to share some of our experiences. Please be aware that this is based on our experience only - we are not vets and can take no responsibility for any allergies or problems that may arise through the use of these natural ingredients.
Major ingredients in my medical box - (both horses and humans!)
Sodium bicarbonate for almost anything as a gentle wash, itch and insect control, particularly good for sweetitch as a daily wash during the season (although this does lighten the coats of the dark coated horses!)
Avon Skin So Soft Oil to assist with keeping insects at bay against sweet-itch and fly infestation
Multimite and sulphur powder - for itchy skin and insect bites (also taken internally), also for dusting on the soles of their feet daily to dry up any signs of thrush or sore heels.
Neem oil for insect control, cuts & grazes, anti-bacterial, soothing, fly repellent etc from Serendipity Herbals (The Neem Team)
Serendipity Herbals also produce effective pet intestinal (worm) calmer which we have found to be exceedingly effective with both our dogs and horses. (for legal purposes we are not allowed to call it a 'wormer' per se)
Calendula for gentle washing for cuts and grazes
Manuka honey (or ordinary honey) for cuts and abrasions, deep wounds, abscess etc
Turmeric and black pepper - amazing anti-inflammatory properties, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-oxidant.
Yeast extract - sandwiches for sweet-itch - one sandwich once a day!
Multi-mite and sulphur mix - for thrush on hooves, and in our case infected divided heel bulbs
Cough from dust and allergies - an equine breathing mask. Dandy no longers suffers from cough when eating hay, and Juta breathes a great deal easier when she too uses this mask for half an hour once a day in the summer. Dandy cannot be ridden when he has his cough, but this year (2016) he has only had two days off, and his COPD is well under control throughout the year as a result of wearing his breathing mask.
The MAGIC of Sodium Bicarbonate - my panacea for all ills!
Sirrus - shows signs of masses of tiny 'sarcoids' on the inside of her thighs. When washed in a solution of sodium bicarbonate (a handful in a small bucket) these tiny 'sarcoids' disappear!
Paps - has had small riased itchy lumps on his back and flanks for many years, and when I washed them in sodium bicarbonate solution every day for a week they disappeared!
Tom - had similar dry itchy places on his back for months, and again when washed in sodium bicarbonate solution they too disappeared.
Now we also add some Neem oil to the solution, along with Avon skin so soft oil to help keep insects and mites at bay! A sprinkling of multimite also helps to control insect bites.
Hamish - Sweet-itch - wash with sodium bicarbonate, Avon skin so Soft and Neem oil daily using a sponge. His sweet-itch stays has gone and not returned this year! This season he has hardly any lumps or bumps. Two years ago he rubbed his fly rug to bits in two nights! A daily marmite sandwich has worked well for Hamish this year - but he is very small! This may be a bit costly for a full sized horse!
Pigs - dry flaky skin on their backs from scratching - presumed to be mites or other small parasites, when sprinkled with sodium bicarbonate and Multimite their skin healed and their hair regrew. They are now old, but running around looking amazing!
Diet - we also add sodium bicarbonate to the horses' diet to help neutralise the stomach acids, aiding in avoidance of stomach ulcers especially in the spring and autumn when there is more sugar in new grass growth. We use approximately 20gms per horse twice a day. We add additional salts by using himalayan rock salt blocks and natural sea salt - Mizse and Tom LOVE their salts, and both are now developing good conformation with a great coat as a result. - see below for more information on our horses' diet.
Magnetic therapy and massage rugs - amazing! I cannot recommend these enough for horses that work hard and show signs of muscle problems, stiffness and stress. Both the magnetic rugs and the massage rugs enable the horse to fully relax in a way that we should but seldom allow ourselves, their poll lowers, their eyes close in minutes! Sore backs and stiff legs are a thing of the past with the older horses. Try the following rugs: http://www.equilibriumproducts.com/
Barefoot horses and diet: - One of the most important factors we believe for barefoot horses is to offer a correct and well balanced diet - this means NO GRAIN , low sugar content, a good salt balance, esecially magnesium and sea salt, and increased fats (in order to provide the energy for working horses that the 'sugar and grain' would have provided. The source of fat and protein that we add to our horses diet is micronised linseed - alfalfa is also a good source of both but some of our horse are not too keen on alfalfa. Coconut oil is a good oil addition to the diet, as this is a good anti-oxidant and has good medicinal properties.
In short, a carbohydrate and sugar reduced diet is essential for all barefoot horses - in fact barefoot success is based on 70% diet, 20% work and 10% hoof care.
if you have a horse with foot problems take a look at what you are feeding him, eliminate the sugars, increase the salts (particularly magnesium salts) and oil (micronised linseed for energy) and keep your horse working on roads, sand arenas, grassy tracks, and stony surfaces. Once they get used to all kinds of surfaces and their sole hardens and thickens, you should have no problem with riding out barefoot, hacking, dressage, eventing or hunting, but the diet and the training have to be consistent and on a wide variety of surfaces over a prolonged period of time. A well balanced hoof will result in well balanced muscles, and good natural conformation.
In additional we strongly recommend that barefoot horses are professionally trimmed by a trained barefoot trimmer to ensure that there are no balance problems with the sole, heel bars, heel abnormalities, and other issues. All our horses ride over all types of surface on stony Exmoor and their soles are as hard as the rocks they work on. Our trimmer is Clive from Blue Moon Holistic Hoof Care.
…………..to be continued