By Tara Swann
According to a 2017 study commissioned by the American Horse Council Foundation, an estimated 2 million Americans own approximately 7.2 million horses, and many of those owners are seeking advice for natural horse care. Horse owners are often known for their unrivaled compassion and dedication when it comes to tending to their equine counterparts.
With eco-farming gaining in popularity, more and more farmers, ranchers and horse owners are seeking natural and sustainable methods through which to care best for their animals. Holistic horse care is becoming a more sought-out approach when it comes to maintaining a healthy, happy horse.
While an all-natural care approach may seem somewhat daunting at first, it becomes almost instinctive once we learn how to truly meet our horse’s physiological needs. In nature, horses are happiest when living in herds in wide, open spaces. They have no need for extravagant blankets or lavish stalls. All they need is social interaction with other horses, healthy food sources and clean water, plenty of exercise and natural, non-invasive treatment when they are ill or hurt.
A Lifelong Commitment
The initial price of buying a horse or pony is only a small part of the overall cost involved in caring for a member of the equine family. To provide a horse with basic care can cost thousands of dollars each year; the absolute basic upkeep amounts to nearly $2,000 annually. Add vet and farrier bills to the equation and you are often left having to pay staggering amounts to keep your horses healthy.
Owning horses is a lifelong commitment, and it is imperative, for both your own sake and the horse’s, to make sure you are both financially and emotionally up to the task of caring for an equine for the duration of its this life.
Opt for Natural Boarding
A more natural boarding environment will allow a horse to thrive both physically and emotionally, resulting in better overall health. Whether you have one horse or 20 is irrelevant when it comes to supplying them with enough space to allow freedom of movement. Horses kept in larger spaces are less prone to suffer from colic and cribbing and will also boast better circulation than those horses kept in small stalls and stables.
While you might feel the urge to ditch conventional boarding all together and allow your horses to roam free outside, this is not a wholly practical solution. You have to provide your horse with shelter from extreme weather conditions, including sun, wind, rain and snow. Horses tend to dislike cordoned-off spaces, so making a run-in barn or shed with more than one entrance/exit is ideal, particularly if you have more than one horse.
Horse Care: Embrace Natural Treatments
Whether you want to deworm your horse or rid him of pesky flies, always conduct some research and consider a more natural approach in terms of treatment. While traditional medicine should never be shunned altogether, it is important to acknowledge that some holistic alternatives can be equally effective. Turmeric, for instance, can be used instead of a variety of NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) in horses that are diagnosed with arthritis.
Celery seed is a very potent digestive tonic for horses that appear lethargic and have a diminished appetite. In horses with arthritis, rheumatism or Navicular syndrome, celery seed can improve blood circulation and reduce blood pressure. Celery seed also has a warming effect, which can be of great use in older or cold horses, and it has been proven to be a strong urinary antiseptic.
Garlic is readily accepted as a natural remedy for a host of human ailments and can be of similar benefit to horses. Including garlic in a horse’s diet on a daily basis can aid the circulatory system and heart to a large extent due to its blood-purifying properties. Garlic can also be used to treat respiratory disorders as well as to aid in keeping flies and other insects away from the surface of the skin. When utilized in a prophylactic manner, it can help protect your horse against worm infestations, colds and coughs.
Seek Eco-Friendly Resources
Caring for an animal is a huge responsibility whether you own a stud farm or merely keep horses for leisure. By following a more natural care approach you will find your horses being fitter, less stressed and much happier and healthier.
There are countless resources out there that can aid in making educated decisions pertaining to your horse’s care. Take the time, do the research and ensure that your equine friends are able to lead their best lives possible.
Tara Swann is a freelance writer.