Your Winter Herbal Tack Room
I have done a series of articles for Country Park Animal Herbs and they have been published over the years in Hoofbeats and Horse Deals Magazines. Over the next few months, now that a few years have passed, I will share these with my readers. For those of you in Australia, Country Park Animal Herbs sell most dried herbs in 1 kilo bags, an economical way to purchase quality herbs for your horse. This article was published in March 2017.
Your Winter Herbal Tack Room
Winter brings with it a range of issues that can be supported gently with nutritional herbs. Country Park’s Winter Blend contains some of the most nutritional herbs available in traditional Western herbalism, Clivers, Nettles, Raspberry leaf and Dandelion Leaf.
When herbs are dried correctly, it is possible retain most of the vitamin, mineral and therapeutic qualities so that they can be fed in small amounts. These herbs in combination can readily supply the minerals calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium, copper, iron, iodine, and vitamins A, C, D, E and K.
Depending on the needs of your horse and your routine, you can give these herbs individually or use the Winter Blend.
The other aspect with Winter is that it is a ‘slow down’ time for the body so it needs to be nurtured. The Clivers is an essential herb to help fend off mud fever during the wetter months, as well as when combined with Nettles nutritionally prepare ponies for the ‘laminitis’ season in Spring. Raspberry Leaf can help prepare mares have their nutritional preparation in place for the coming breading season.
The herbs can be considered a ‘food’ as the nutrients are easily utilised without the strain of processing excess ‘hard minerals’ though the elimination systems.
With older joints, the addition of ginger powder to the daily routine helps ‘warm’ the horse’s body from within. One teaspoon is plenty to help with discomfort and stiffness, as well as improve the digestive processes that can slow during cold weather.
Why you would choose each of these herbs during the Winter months:
Clivers: Often used as a blood purifier and specific to clearing up hoof abscess and greasy heel during the wet cool months. Clivers helps a sluggish Winter body with its high vitamin C and silica content.
Nettles: Historically used to strengthen and support the whole body with its high mineral content. The vitamin C content increases the absorption of iron for the anaemic horse. It is an effective circulatory stimulant for horses with laminitis and arthritis.
Raspberry Leaf: A uterine tonic for fertility and useful for nutritionally preparing mares for the breeding season. It can settle diarrhoea if a horse is affected by the first flush of green grass after a heavy rain.
Dandelion Leaf: Another nutritionally strengthening herb to help the body get through the cooler months of Winter. It is a digestive and kidney tonic and if growing in the paddock will often be sort after by the horses when they graze.
Yarrow: Traditionally useful for the early stages of respiratory infections and best used as a warm tea at the beginning of viral infections. Native American Indians inserted rolled up leaves in the nostrils to stop nosebleeds.
Gingko: A useful peripheral circulatory stimulant when added to a blend for laminitis and COPD. Often used to expel phlegm and will assist with wheezing.
Ginger: A warming digestive herb, useful for older animals aches and stiffness; soothes upper respiratory congestion. It is a wonderful herb for colic caused from gas or from drinking cold water.