How to Herbalise Your Horse

Have you ever wanted to feed your horse natural products that will benefit your horses physical, mental and inner well-being? Or have you needed to medicate your horse but wanted something without the long term side-effects? Natural is not always better, but more often than not can prevent complications and issues where you will need to medicate. Sometimes, conventional humanized medications such as Bute and anti-steroidal anti-inflammatory as well as penicillin and antibiotics is better for clinical, fast results, but for instances where prevention is better than a cure, or long term long term effects of medication's ave negative side effects, non-invasive is best. This article will show you how to herbalise your horse using basic beneficial herbs. If you require herbal guidance or medical assistance when dealing with internal problems please seek medical advice from a Veterinarian or Herbal Practitioner as dosage rates will differ on variables of horses.


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    Learn your herbs by purchasing an herbal remedies book on horses. Alternatively you can visit your local library or search the internet. A basic list and overview of your basic all-purpose well-being herbs is listed below:-
      • Garlic:- "Allium sativum" The most important portmanteau herb. Natural antibiotic with the huge advantage that it is selective and only kills pathogens.It is the greatest disease preventative and fighter being anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic.
      • Rosehips:- "Rosa canina" Another portmanteau herbs, Rosehips should be given as part of a natural diet. It has an enormous Vitamin C level as well as a vast array of other vitamins and a high mineral count. A broad general tonic good for rehabilitation after any stress, illness or injury, an immune system booster, a circulatory herb especially beneficial for the bridge between arterial and venous circulation which is one main reason it promotes strong, healthy hoof growth and is good for the lungs. Advanced benefits if made into a Tea.
      • Chamomile:-
      • Brewer's Yeast:-
      • Cod Liver Oil:-
      • Seaweed Meal/Liquid:-
      • Echinacea:-
      • White Willow Bark:-
      • Fenugreek:-
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    Find out what your horse needs or is lacking. If a horse is prone to nervous tension, and gut tension, such as Diarrhea, or if a horse has a low immune system from recently getting over a cold or illness. If you just want to improve your horses well-being, or if you want to prevent the setting in of an illness or virus.
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    Evaluate your horse. To correctly dose your horse, even for basic herbs, you still need to take into consideration the variables. You wouldn't give a miniature pony 2 cups of Garlic and only give a Warmblood 1 cup. Be realistic with your dosages, the smaller the horse, the smaller the dose rate.
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    A list of Equine Variables is listed below:-
      • Lactating vs. Non-Lactating: This is a mare with a foal at foot, or a pregnant mare, compared to a stallion or gelding or riding mare not used for breeding.
      • Gender: Some herb's such as Cod Liver Oil can cause flirtatious behavior in female horses. While some other herbs may boost fertility and productivity in stallions and brood mares.
      • Age: Younger horses should get a smaller dose, so their body can handle it, just like a smaller breed of horse. You wouldn't gibe a 6 month old Warm blood (which is the size of a full grown welsh section A at the best of times) the amount of herbs you would give a Full Grown Warm Blood.
      • Height and Body Size: As stated above, the smaller the horse, the smaller the dose. Bear in mind though, a fatter pony or a skinny Hack will need to be dosed to suit it's body frame and weight. There are slight variables within the body weight, but keep to the Breed rule, and don't overdose.
      • Breed: Some breeds of horses don't require certain minerals and vitamins. Though, this also depends on location of where they are pastured and kept.
      • Pasture/Up Keep: If a horse is stabled all day and all night, then supplemental herbs are a must. If a horse is paddocked all day and night, then the horse will need sufficient herbal replacement to replace anything that will have been sweated out, or that he wouldn't be able to get naturally.
      • Activity: A Pleasure or Trail horse wouldn't need as much herbal supplements, as compared to a Hunter Hack or a Performance Show Jumper or Eventer. This is also the case with Western Performance and Horses that are used for strenuous activity. Show Jumper horses and Eventers take breaks before each new event, whereas Performance and Long Distance Treks need additional supplements to maintain salt and mineral levels.
      • Natural Behavior: A horse that is simply used as a paddock companion will require less herbal supplements then that of a working horse.
      • Temperament: Some hers can relax horses, just as much as some herbs can heat horses up. You wouldn't feed a slow School Horse or pony herbs to calm it down, just as you wouldn't feed a Thoroughbred Racehorse or Ex-Racehorse herbs that will heat them up.
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    Dose Your Horse This should be done by a Trained Professional Equine Herbalist, however, it is quite easy to dose your horse for the everyday herbal treatments. An example for the three main Equine Size groups follows.
      • Pony - Because ponies are a smaller size, ranging from miniatures and fella bellas, all the way to 13.3 hands it shows that every horse isn't the same. For a miniature horse or any breed that is measured in inches, a dosage rate should be evaluated by an Equine Herbalist as they are very small and excessive amounts of particular herbs can cause adverse reactions to their health. For these horses, follow the guide listed, however, half it and dose over a whole day in intervals, (i.e. not in one feed). For a pony that is measured in hands, from 9 hands through to 13.3 hands, the ideal amount for a healthy horse that does not require any medicinal increases is about 1/2 teaspoon of garlic, about 1 teaspoon Rosehips and 1/2 cup Chamomile made into a tea with about 1 liter (0.3 US gal) of water. If you wish to improve their coat condition then the following amounts would be suitable. 3 to 5 ml Cod Liver Oil and the same in Liquid Seaweed Meal.
      • Galloway - These sized horses range from 14 to 15 hands. A 13.3. hand pony may be included if they are of a stockier QH build. On the other scale, a 15.1 hand horse of Stock Horse and Riding Pony build may be dosed as a Galloway. Generally following the same rule as for ponies, if a Galloway is in need to a medical treatment, then you are able to increase certain herbs, however, for personal relief seek advice from a Vet and/or Equine Herbalist and/or Experienced Horse Person with experience in Herbal remedies. 1 teaspoon of Garlic, (can be increased to Hack dose if the horse has a cold), 2 teaspoon Rosehips (can be increased to 3 if horse has a cold or if horse has laminitis), 1 cup of Chamomile made into a tea with 1 liter (0.3 US gal) of hot water. (If the horse has a gastro problem you can safely increase the dose by 1/2 cup, increase the water also by 1/2 liter) Cod Liver oil should be administered at the dose of 5 to 10 ml per day, as would be Liquid Seaweed meal.
      • Hack - A hack horse is 15 Hands or higher. If you have a Warmblood or a horse that is taller than 16.3 hands, then a higher dose is required as they are a much larger horse. 2 teaspoons Garlic, 2 to 3 teaspoons Rosehips, 1 to 2 cups Chamomile made into a tea with 1 to 2 liters (0.3 to 0.5 US gal) of hot water. For Cod Liver oil, the dose should be 10 to 15ml per day, seaweed meal now changes to a maximum of 10ml per day, unless advised from an Equine Herbalist as some brands are stronger. An additional product that has the same benefits and composition as Seaweed meal is Equilibrium, the dose rates are listed on pack.
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    Monitor your horse for any changes in appearance or behaviour. You should see a positive response. Many people say that herbs take at least a week to take effect and for results to be seen, but this differs from person to person. In many cases, the response form Chamomile is fast, with Garlic being within a few days as with Rosehips. Cod Liver oil is within days however, it will depend on the dose rate and how much work your horse is in. If you are working your horse while feeding garlic, very soon you may find a sweet garlic smell, this is the effect of the garlic in conjunction with the fluid loss from natural sweating. This process which is sped up when sweating, will mean that any biting insects from flies to bots etc will be greeted with an unpleasant small and taste.
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    Re-evaluate your horse and re-dose if required. It is best to take a before and after photo shot from all directions sides, front and back. So as you can see if the herbs have had an effect. It is hard to tell most of the time as the telltale signs are subtle and each day you may not notice the change.


  • Start by feeding a small amount of herbs and every second day increase by a quarter until you reach you desired amount.
  • combine herbs to make a tea to enhance their benefits, (use only herbs suitable for tea - Rosehips, Chamomile,)


  • If you are using Equilibrium or Seaweed meal, remove the other product as you are doubling up and they do the same thing.
  • Some people say that it takes a few months for herbs to kick in, but it really depends on the circumstances. Usually it will take a few days if you feed herbs every day. On a warmer day, the herbs will take effect faster, as they will be moving out of the blood stream and sweated out much faster.

Things You'll Need

  • Measure cups and spoons (1/4 Teaspoon all the way to 1 cup)
  • Herbs
  • Herbal Book or access to herbal information
  • an herbal Practitioner for any questions etc.

Sources and Citations

  • "The Practical Horse Herbal" by Victoria Ferguson
  • "Country Park Herbs"

Article Info

Categories: Horse Feeding