Laura Batts, founder of lifestyle brand Horse Hippie, looks inside her kitchen cabinet for improved equine health.
Everyone has grabbed an apple or carrot from the fridge to share with their horse as they headed out to the barn. But did you know that there are tons of other things you can find in the kitchen that you can use on your horse, too? Actually there is stuff around your entire house — but that’s another blog post!
Here are five things I’ve been using and have experienced firsthand the benefits of, both for me and my horse:
Aloe Vera Juice
I take this everyday either straight up or mixed in my morning shake. I have the world’s worst stomach but I love to eat fun things and have the occasional drink. Daily dosing helps with the digestive tract but if I know I might imbibe I take a juice glass full. Aloe coats my stomach and the effects of my merriment aren’t an issue anymore.
It does the same for your horse. Aloe is high in digestible fiber, which gives it the properties of lowering bowel transit time, absorbing toxins in the bowel, regulating colonic bacteria, and soothing and protecting the digestive tract. Aloe also contains a complex mixture of mucopolysaccharides (complex sugars) that nourish cells and support them in replicating.
You can add about ¼ cup to your horse’s diet twice a day to reap the benefits.
These little seeds are really making some waves in both human and horse health. Entire companies are being founded just to offer you and your horse the benefits of chia. My use started when l read that they are a great way to rid your body of toxins. This is because they absorb 10 times their weight in water and form a bulky gel. This benefit can help your horse digest nutrients and reduce ulcers.
Chia seeds are the highest naturally occurring source of Omega-3 fatty acids, with a 3:1 ratio of Omega-3s to Omega-6s. So this adds an anti-inflammatory property to chia seeds. Omega-3s can help reduce pain and swelling. If you aren’t convinced yet, chia seeds are a complete source of protein, so they also build muscle and topline!
I use and feed US Chia because I know the source, find the company terrific to work with and they offer many sizes. I use only a teaspoon a day in my shake but a typical 1,000 pound horse can eat a maintenance dose of 1/4 cup (1 scoop) of US Chia Seeds each day. If your horse has not been on a supplement program, you can feed a loading dose of 1/2 cup (2 scoops) of US Chia Seeds each day for two weeks.
I drink herbal tea all day long. I start my day with a hot cup of Chai then soak a de-tox tea bag in my water bottle for the day. I love the effects of the herbs in the teas, they can wake me up, calm me, sooth my stomach or help me sleep.
Your horse might also enjoy some warm herbal tea. Some of the medicinal effects herbal teas offer us can be good for horses too. I soak four tea bags in a quart of warm water and pour it over some beet pulp.
Here are some of my favorites to share with my horse:
~ Yarrow: My go to detox tea and anti-inflammatory tea. The silica found in this plant helps repair damaged or worn out tissues in the body. It’s great for a senior horse because yarrow stimulates appetite and improves digestion as well as nutrient absorption.
~ Ginger: In people, ginger ale and ginger beer help settle an upset stomach, and ginger tea is sometimes used for nausea. So it stands to reason that ginger tea might also be good for equine tummy trouble or possible gas colic. Ginger is in the same plant family as turmeric and cardamom, all of which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
~ Peppermint: Although commonly associated with candy, peppermint is known as a healing plant. Peppermint tea can help with digestion and may help to prevent some forms of gas and possibly gas colic in horses.
~ Rose hips: This herb has recently become a popular natural treatment for arthritis. Rose hips are also nutrient rich: full of bioflavonoids, pectin, vitamin E, selenium, manganese, and B vitamins, and also contain trace amounts of magnesium, potassium, sulfur and silicon.
We add salt to our diets because we think it makes food taste better. The benefit to salt or salty foods is that it stimulates the thirst response so we drink more, staying hydrated. This is also true for your horse.
Triggering this response in cold weather can help promote enough water consumption to prevent dehydration and prevent colic. When it’s hot and your horse is sweating (up to a gallon an hour!) salt will help replace what is lost from perspiration.
A full-sized horse requires at least one ounce (two level tablespoons or 30 ml) of salt each day for maintenance — this much provides 12 grams of sodium. The best way to do this is to include offering free-choice iodized granulated salt.
Remember to calculate the amount of sodium your horse is already getting from any commercial feeds or supplements you feed, then add salt accordingly.
I wrote an in-depth article for the Holistic Horse about using coconut oil and meal in the equine diet but there’s even more to the story than that. I use coconut oil on my hair and coconut oil is without question my favorite body lotion. It absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave an oily feeling at all. It makes skin incredibly silky and has wonderful antibacterial/antimicrobial properties.
The same is true for Trigger. You can apply coconut oil to improve your horse’s mane, tail, wounds and hooves. If fed to your horse it is a great source of fat and protein and is easy for horses to digest. We sell a cocosoya oil product that I really love!
Those are my top five things-from-the-kitchen I share with my horse but there are many, many more. The expanded list:
For Immune System:
Apple Cider Vinegar
For Weight Gain:
For Stomach and Digestion:
For Bug Control:
Apple Cider Vinegar
For Picky Eaters:
Dawn Dish washing liquid
Hope this helps you keep yourself and your horse healthy and happy!!
Laura Batts is the founder of Horse Hippie, a lifestyle brand started in November 2014. A Horse Hippie embraces an earth-friendly lifestyle for herself and her horse. She wears comfy clothes, groovy accessories and includes healthy practices into her daily life and horse care. She spends most of her time at the barn with her best friend. Our positive messages, free spirit style and unique treasures spark hope and happiness in others. We love seeing the world become a better place one Horse Hippie at a time.