Natural Supplements for Equine Health

April 10, 2018 in Articles

Here are two beautiful horses!


There are still debates on the use of natural supplements for equine health treatment, but more horse owners are opting for natural supplements (over the generally-accepted pharmaceutical medication) as a cheaper and healthier regimen for their horses. 

Natural or herbal supplements are dietary supplements that contain herbs or any part of a plant used for its flavor or therapeutic properties. These plants’ parts may include flowers, leaves, fruits, seeds, stems, and roots. Supplements are substances added to something else in order to enhance, augment or complete an incomplete diet. In the efforts on improving equine health by horse owners, the integration of conventional medicine and alternate medication may be the best approach.  


Some horse owners overuse the conventional pharmaceutical medications for an equine illness which can sometimes be better treated using herbal medications. Over application of conventional medications can be toxic to horses, to the environment when the horses defecate, and eventually, to us. In addition, overuse of this kind of treatment can actually lead to other issues in a horse’s system while dealing with issues in another part of the body.

Pharmaceutical drugs


There are five (5) areas of major concern to horse owners when it comes to equine general well-being:

  • Digestion
  • Energy
  • Immune System
  • Musculoskeletal Health
  • Respiration

Based on these, we’ll be examining the importance of natural supplements such as essential oils, herbs, and probiotics relating to equine health.


Essential Oils 

Examples of Essential Oils

These are volatile liquids (they tend to evaporate) derived from different plant’s parts including seeds and flowers. They are “essential” due to the fact that they contain the characteristic fragrance of the plant from which they are derived.  Essential oils have numerous health and medicinal applications due to their antidepressant, stimulating, detoxifying, antibacterial, antiviral and calming abilities.

Essential oils work very well in synergy with other oils (in terms of aroma and functions), making it possible to prepare different aromatic essential-oil combinations.


There are two applications of essential oils for the treatment of horses:

  • Aromatherapy
    – this involves direct inhalation of the aromatic essential oils
  • Topical application
    this involves applying essential oils directly on the skin, mouth, hair
    or any part of the horse’s body. They are easily absorbed by the skin and
    will spread throughout the horse’s body.

A few examples of essential oils are basil essential oil, bergamot essential oil, bitter almond essential oil and black pepper essential oil.

Before applying an essential oil on your horse, do ensure to consult with a certified aromatherapist so as to know which oil works best or is safe for your horse — these are diluted with carrier oils.  Do not attempt to apply the essential oils on your own without or without prior knowledge or experience.


Cannabidiol Oil (CBD)

Example of CBD Oil

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is extracted from cannabis or hemp plants. Hemp plants naturally contain low concentrations of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive cannabinoid which causes the “high” sensation; but high concentrations of CBD, which unlike THC, are non-psychoactive and will not cause your horse to become stoned.

CBD has vast applications such as a pain relief, reduction in anxiety and depression, and reducing inflammation. For ages, it has been used in equine’s treatment, especially aging and performance horses.

Benefits of CBD in equine health include:

  • Colon and Digestive health: Horses suffer from indigestion, heartburn, colic, and ulcers which are caused by poor cannabinoid production in the digestive tract. CBD oil helps to maintain proper cannabinoid production to ensure optimal performance of the colon and digestive tract.
  • Anxiety: CBD helps in bringing over-stressed horses to a normal, calmer state, restoring playfulness, improving appetite which, in turn, creates a happy and healthy physical and psychological state.
  • Inflammation and Pain reduction: due to their sizes, horses suffer from injuries and fractures. Also, laminitis is a potentially dangerous disease and if a horse is affected, it can be fatal. CBD is very effective in dealing with aches, pains, and arthritis. It also very useful in combating (and preventing) leg and hoof issues.  (The Calendula/Comfrey Salve mentioned later in this article can help with dry hooves and more.)


Herbal Supplements for Equine Health 

Ex. of Herbal Supplements


In general use, herbs are plants with savory or aromatic properties are used for flavoring food, in medicine, or as fragrances. In medicine, any part of a plant can be considered an herb, including the leaves, roots, flowers, seeds, root bark and inner bark. As natural herbivores, it is normal for horses to go search for and eat herbs, such as garlic, dandelion, and nettle, which have healing abilities. There are many benefits and applications of herbs when treating a horse and this can eventually lead to a reduction in the amounts of pharmaceutical drugs used on your horse.  Here are some benefits of using herbs:

  • Prevention of chronic illness such as in the colon.
  • Maintaining optimal immune health and energy in a healthy animal undergoing stress.
  • Fast recovery from a major health stress such as injuries, surgery, or illness.
  • Helps in combating non-life-threatening conditions, such as Cushing’s disease, ligament
    injuries, gastric ulcers, immune deficiencies, allergies, fatigue, reproduction and so on.

Examples of beneficial herbs to horses include Stinging nettle, Comfrey, Dandelion, Garlic, Valerian, and Meadowsweet.


Probiotics for Equine Health Improvement 


These are also known as “direct-fed” microbes. They are the live microorganisms in feeds or supplement products which are assumed to provide health benefits when consumed.

The inside of a horse’s gut is home to colonies of bacteria, protozoa, and fungi, which helps it digest a bulk of its feed. The main component of forages would be grass and hay.  Fiber is degraded by these microorganisms to produce nutrients that are absorbed by the horse’s colon. The nutrients obtained from this process account for 70% of a horse’s energy requirements.

CLICK IMAGE – Probiotics for Digestive Health & Strong Immunity

An imbalance in the population of these micro-organisms, that is when the bad ones outnumber the good ones can lead to several complications and illnesses. These imbalances can be due to several reasons, some of which are a change in feeds, stress, and undigested starch from concentrated feeds reaches the hindgut.

The importance of probiotics in maintaining this balance in horses’ digestive system cannot be overemphasized. These include:

  • To aid fast recovery from illness or infection in horses received oral antibiotics treatment.  Medications that kill harmful bacteria are sometimes also harmful to the beneficial organisms.
  • Probiotics help to stabilize the right microorganisms’ population in horses’ gut thereby reducing digestive upset in horses easily affected by diarrhea or mild colic. They can also be used as preventive measures for horses that have suffered serious colic.
  • Probiotics help to reduce stress due to dietary changes, travel or competitions on horses.
  • Probiotics help in nutrient absorption and efficient digestive system in aged and unfit horses.
  • It helps fasten the population growth rate of microbes in young foals.


Organic Salve for Dry Hooves, Hot Spots, Wounds, Etc.

Here is an Organic Salve created for horses. It has 79% organic ingredients.  It contains Calendula and Comfrey.  The herbs that were chosen for this salve have healing properties.  It has emollient qualities that help to heal dry, cracked skin patches, wounds, rashes, hot spots, saddle sores, dry hooves and more.  I have chosen this one because it contains: NO parabens, NO synthetic fragrances, NO GMO’s, NO petroleum, and NO harsh ingredients or preservatives. I would not give or put anything on my pets that can cause harm, and I want to assure you are getting products that are safe, effective, and are made with quality ingredients for your horse.  This particular Calendula/Comfrey salve is made with the highest quality oils and herbs. Using a product that contains chemicals or synthetic, harmful ingredients can compromise the health of your horse; this salve does Not contain any of those things.  Click the image below to get more info. 


CLICK Image for this ORGANIC HERBAL SALVE for Horses

Healthy Diet for Horses

In creating a healthy diet for horses, the following should be ensured:

  • A Horse’s feed should be high in forage. 
  • Access to an abundance of fresh, clean water throughout the day.
  • Horses should be allowed to graze as much as possible in order not to develop gut disorders and ulcers.
  • Reduce their level of stress.
  • Removal of harmful plants, shrubs, and trees from horses’ environments to prevent ingestion of the toxic substance.
  • Their feed should be of good quality, free of mold and dust.

In conclusion, the importance of using natural supplements for equine health should not be overlooked. It also should not be intended as an alternative to conventional medicine (which may be necessary in some cases), but supplemental to improve equine general well-being and reduce the cost of conventional medications.  (Always consult with a veterinarian (holistic or mainstream), or another licensed professional (aromatherapist, etc.) before beginning any new program or attempting to give a new product to your horse.)





Natural Supplements for Equine Health


    1. Lyndsay says:

      great article! I had not really thought much about natural supplements for equine health but I love that this information is starting to get talked about. Pumping horses and other farm animals of antibiotics doesn’t seem right! I avoid them as a person, and animals don’t have a choice. I love that you mention Cannabidiol Oil. Cannabis is about to be legalized in Canada, and although medical marijuana is available, it isn’t an accepted medication across the country yet or culturally. I am excited what extracts from the plant can do for the medical world! thanks for posting!

      • Cathy says:

        Hi Lyndsay,

        Thanks, and I’m glad that you enjoyed reading this article!  I agree that some pets owners give medications, right away, without researching if there are alternative avenues.  But, yes, more and more people are becoming aware of natural remedies that are safe and effective!  : )  Sometimes medications are necessary.  But just like you, I try hard to avoid using them for myself and my pets and always do the research and love using natural remedies as my first choice.  Thanks, again!

        Cathy  : )

    2. Kim Wolfe says:

      Hi Cathy.

      Thanks for posting this information. I’ve been researching natural supplements for my animals. It seems that different doctors and animal owners have different views on using natural supplements.

      I wasn’t aware of using essential oils so this information is useful. I think people are starting to realize natural supplants aren’t big just for humans anymore. We are quick to turn prescriptions which all have side effects.

      I’m in interested in trying out some of these ideas. Thanks again.

      • Cathy says:

        Thank you, Kim!  

        Yes, you’re correct about that: many people are beginning to realize the benefits of using natural remedies for their pets.  I know I am a firm believer of this practice, for myself and my pets as well!  I hate the awful side effects associated with prescription drugs.

        Glad you found the article interesting and of use!  : )

        Warm regards,


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Natural Supplements for Equine Health

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