Horses in the wild are browsers by nature and if left to their own devices will cover many kilometers over land that will provide them with a range of plants, all able to address any health issues that may naturally occur. They would be exposed to a range of surfaces that will provide friction and often will have abrasive qualities which would help keep their hooves naturally ‘filed’ and shaped. The continual movement would ensure that blood supply to hooves and legs is maintained at an optimum level. The pastures would have not only a range of pasture grasses but also deeper rooting species like willow, chicory, wild mallow etc. The variation in root penetration in the soil would have provided a far bigger sprectrum of naturally occurring minerals that would eventually be synthesised in the leaf. Some plants have bitter priniciple enabling the horse to ‘detox’ should they have taken in plant toxins and/or pathgenic myco-toxins. Because these environments were biologically diverse, pathogens or the over supply of any one species would be self regulated. In other words the original environment was perfect for the horse required to carry out normal levels of activity that kept them naturally fit and well.
While we could to some extent recreate horse utopia by designing speciality pastures, track system grazing, herbal leys, etc administering herbal extracts may required form time to time. These tend to be more effective in the short term because they are more concentrated and biologically available for the majority of horses on our modern pastures.
We also need to be aware that we are asking a lot of our very generous equine friends and sometimes ‘misunderstandings’ and ‘injuries’ may unwittingly occur. While most problems can and should be resolved by just taking a step back and giving all concerned time-out. This would help prevent the build up of tension which of course will lead to an adrenal response which in turn will result in a raise in the level of cortisol. (The secondary and long term stress hormone). The body then will be more susceptable to muscle tension, inflammation, spookiness all things that will impact on our relationship with our beloved horses.
While prevention and the development of horse friendly pastures will go along way to keeping our equine friends healthy and happy, the use of herbs either as a concentrated extract, tonic or herbal blends when required may be able to help in a gentle and natural way.