Here comes the heat …
Summer time in Australia is when we all want to head for the outdoors, with the increase in temperature comes added stresses from the environment for our horses. To keep them comfortable we can add fly veils and sheets, or use fly sprays; and we can also build up their own immune system from within with herbs which may help your horse cope with any changes in Summer weather.
Photosensitisation and sunburn, insect bites, itch, cracked hooves are just some of the issues your horse may be affected by as a result of too much heat in the body. You can use your practical topical treatments, and then support how your horse can become more resilient during the hot weather.
Other signs that the ‘heat within’ is not balanced in your horses can be thirst, aggression, restlessness, intolerance to the heat, yellow congestion, red skin or eyes, dark urine, sweating, inflammation and seeking cool areas. Introducing cooling herbs may help turn down the overheating, decrease the circulation and cool off the body. Considering the energetic aspect of the herbs will help bring coolness to the body, with the intention of making your horse more comfortable through the hotter months.
Peppermint is traditionally a ‘hot day’ herb. Pouring a cup of peppermint tea onto feed or into a spare water bucket on debilitating stifling days acts as a digestive tonic and can cool overheated organs. Peppermint doesn’t have to be given every day and is sometimes more effective when given ad-hoc two, three or four times a week; or daily for a week or two to address an issue. Just be careful with nursing mares as it can dry up milk production.
Other Cooling Herbs
- Marshmallow root
- Dandelion leaf
Calendula was called sponsa salis in Ancient Roman times which means the ‘bride of the sun’ as it thrives in summer. Some herbalists consider Calendula to be the single most useful herb for healing damaged or broken skin. It helps stimulate the immune system and as a natural antiseptic reduces thrush, ringworm, mud fever, rainscald, and cracked heels. Historically used as a blood tonic for stressed fretful animals in hot and dry weather.
Clivers has a marked cooling action and the ability to get into ‘hot spots’ of the body, places where the ‘chi’ or energy has become stuck and stagnant. It then gives the block impetus to move. Historically it has been used for the high vitamin C content and it is rich in silica to help strengthen hooves. If your horse suffers from abscesses or greasy heel, the lymphatic cleansing action of clivers will help the immune system to cleanse, and strengthen the affected tissue.
Rosehips is your cooling tonic herb for conditioning and will help your horse fight infection and restore his defences to disease. As a systemic anti inflammatory herb it will work with the other herbs to address heat in the body from inflammation. The vitamin C and A content assists the immune system to fight off infections from both bacteria and viruses, which then helps to restore health after general debility.
Marshmallow contains large amounts of mucilage with soothing and healing properties. It is anti inflammatory and soothing to the skin and upper respiratory allergy reactions, relieving dry skin, itchy eyes and ears. It is soothing to sensitive guts with its nutritive aspect, while helping the gut absorb more nutrients effectively. Slippery Elm has the same cooling effect with even more nutritional value.
Dandelion is a nutritive herb with high levels of vitamins and minerals and the anti-inflammatory properties can help relieve inflamed, irritated, dry, or itchy skin. It clears excessive heat from the body, and then nutritionally feeds the body the nutrients it needs to establish a strong immune system.
By combining these herbs, you are not only strengthening your horse from within, by cleaning his skin and making the immune system stronger, it will help buffer your horse from the onslaught of the coming hot weather.
You can do this with individual herbs, or you can use a blend like Country Park’s Summer Blend.
When it is hot and uncomfortable for you, it is sometimes easier to just add a scoop of herbs that have been blended for these hot months. This carefully thought out Summer Blend will assist most horses through these warmer months.
Each horse is unique with how they respond to the herbs, individually or in combination. For many horses this general approach will cover off as a broad general supportive approach. Other horses may need an individual tweak, their liver or kidneys may need a more targeted approach in combination with the cooling herbs, while other horses may only require one or two herbs to help them find a balance with their internal heat during the summer heat.
If the summer bugs are annoying your horse, brewers yeast is a useful additive to make their blood less tasty. Garlic can be useful, however monitor your horse in summer as it can be heating to the body, and heat may not be the most comfortable option if your horse is already predisposed to an excess of ‘heat’.
For correct dosage rates on the herbs mentioned in this article please contact Carol or Ruth at Country Park.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purpose only and is not meant to replace veterinary advice or treatment.
Author: Catherine Bird
Copyright Country Park Animal Herbs 2020 – First published November 2020 in Horse Deals.