By Olivia St. Pierre
You see them in your social feeds all the time – recipes for homemade horse “remedies” that work just as well or better than the commercial products we buy at the feed and tack stores.
The jury is still out on a lot of these remedies. But there a few household items in your pantry right now that can be useful around the farm. Here they are.
Apple Cider Vinegar (With Mother)
Apple cider vinegar has been used for supporting immunity, detoxification, as an anti-inflammatory agent, or even just to soothe a sore throat, for many years. In fact, it can be traced back to as early as 55 B.C. on the British Isles as a folk remedy.
At the barn, apple cider vinegar is a go-to home remedy for almost everything. A budding case of thrush? Soak the hoof in apple cider vinegar. Hoof abscess? Soak it in apple cider vinegar. Out of fly spray? Try the vinegar. Arthritis or inflammation? Add a quarter-cup of apple cider vinegar in your horse’s morning feed to prevent calcification of the joints.
It’s best known among horse owners for its efficacy in preventing fungal or bacterial growth in thrush due to its acidic quality. But it’s important to note that the treatment will be most potent if it is labeled as “with the mother”. This is because “the mother” is the active colony of beneficial bacteria that creates the magic.
Be sure to dilute the apple cider vinegar before using it as treatment. For thrush, an abscess, or rain rot, prepare a 50-50 dilution in a basin or a bucket and soak each affected hoof for about 15 minutes. This will prevent the spread of bacteria or fungal growth upon initial onset, and can be used in conjunction with over-the-counter medicinal remedies to quickly clear up an outbreak.
Some folks at my barn continue to repeat the soaking process 2-3 times per week even after the infection has cleared up as prevention, especially prior to a forecast of heavy rain.
I often use coconut oil as first-aid for bug bites that just won’t heal. Coconut oil is effective when it comes to wound care due to its anti-viral, antibiotic, and anti-parasitic properties. Coconut oil has also been shown to help mend dry or cracked hooves, as well as keep fungal infections at bay when applied as a preventative measure.
My favorite thing to drink on horse show day is a warm cup of chamomile tea with honey. Chamomile, a small white wildflower with feathery leaves, is known for its antihistamine properties and calming effect when ingested or inhaled. For our equine friends, chamomile can be steamed and diffused to calm anxious horses. It’s also used an immunity-booster, or a digestive aid for horses with loose stool.
Chamomile has been known to relieve digestive tract spasms and pain.
Chamomile can also be used as an antihistimine salve or ointment when mixed with a good base cream. This can then be applied to treat skin irritations, allergies, hives, or even bug bites. For the treatment of hives or other systemic allergic reactions, a cup of brewed chamomile tea could also be added to feed.