Just as promised in our last post, this week we are providing you with a detailed list of herbs that are beneficial for your horses and are easy to grow in our latitudes. It's a lot of work, but your horses will be grateful.
What do I need to know beforehand?
Select the herbs you want to plant carefully; Consider the type of the plant. Does it spread aggressively? How tall does it grow? Is it perennial or is it growing only one year? What kind of soil do you have? Do the plants prefer shade, half-shaded or sun exposure?
Additionally, you can buy seeds, seedlings, or young plants, or a mix of everything. If you buy young plants, you won't have to wait a long time for them to establish and your horses will be able to munch on them pretty soon. Just remember, only give horses access to the herb garden if the plants are properly enrooted.
Some more information about plants and planting are following, but maybe you have a gardener friend or a herbalist at hand who can give you additional advice.
Successful Planting: Helpful Tips
Is the planning done? Only one thing remains then… the planting itself. If you don't have a lot of experience with gardening yet, you should choose herbs that are easy to grow in your area or generally labeled as "weeds". They are always easy to grow. Take one example: Dandelion. Very precious.
The Dandelion has a strong diuretic action and is rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium. For all those owners who have horses with hoof problems or whose horses require extra Biotin supplementation, dandelions are an excellent natural source of Vitamin H also known as Biotin.
One person's weed, is the other man's treasure, right?
Please check: Before feeding or planting herbs, you should check the botanical or Latin name of the plant. Sometimes plants are very closely related, but the effects they have on the horse are totally different.
More helpful tips:
Plant seeds or seedlings in rich soil.
It is best to plant each species in rather large groups so that there is always plenty available. That way you can avoid that the whole plant is eaten at once. The tastier the plant, the more you should plant.
Select locations according to the plant's needs.
Avoid places that are often exposed to heavy rainfall.
In case of poor water drainage: raised beds and drainage systems can help.
Care for your herbs with compost, organic fertilizers or give some effective microorganisms (EMa) to the water.
Use fertilizer sparingly. Too frequent nitrogen fertilization will reduce the concentration of essential oils in the healthy green stuff.
Our plant selection for horses
German Chamomile - blossoms from May to September. The anti-inflammatory and analgesic actions of chamomile are helpful for aches and pains. It acts as a sedative and relaxant.The flowers have an anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect and prevent the excessive building of stomach acid. The plant is especially good for horses with stomach ulcers or other intestinal problems.
German Chamomile is high in calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, potassium, and manganese. An anti-inflammatory aids digestion especially of nervous hyperactive horses. Eases cases of tension, anxiety, and stress. Use for aches and pains.
Planting the chamomile is easy, it prefers a sunny location and increases by self-sowing.
Yarrow - is a winter hardy, perennial plant and very easy to grow. They are often found along roadsides or meadows and pastures. It has an anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect. Yarrow is one of the most useful herbs for senior horses due to its circulatory properties. Horses that become foot sore benefit from being given fresh or dried leaves. Yarrow will also stop a bleeding if the plant is applied directly to the wound. Additionally, it can be given for internal bleeding coming from the nostrils or in the urine. Supports blood supply and circulation to peripheral blood vessels so is ideal for navicular syndrome treatment. May help to rebuild damaged nerves.
Peppermint – blooms purple from July to September, but the healing properties lie in the leaves. Mint is used as one of the main herbs for the digestive system. The reason mint is such a valuable herb is due to the volatile oil it contains. The oil has a carminative action helping to relax sphincters and the smooth muscle of the digestive system, assist in the expulsion of intestinal gas, tone mucous membrane surfaces and increase peristalsis.
The oil has both a cooling and soothing effect on the smooth muscle of the stomach and intestines, which makes it one of the key herbs to choose for horses prone to smooth muscle spasm, trapped gas, or poor appetite. The oil content is highest just before flowering and the amount of oil in the plant can vary.
Horses love to eat flowers, for example, arnica or marigold as well as rose blossoms. Marigold, or calendula, is highly beneficial, since it is anti-bacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and, given internally, is a powerful digestive. As calendula lotion (used in homeopathy and herbal medicines) it is a valuable wound treatment, it disinfects and stimulates healing.
Arnica - Herbal arnica is used topically to relieve the pain and inflammation of soft-tissue injuries such as bruises, muscle soreness, and sprains. It helps to prevent bruising and swelling after traumatic skin injuries and prevents the blood platelets from gathering to the site of injury. It is useful for joint, muscle and rheumatic pain and it has also been found to prevent muscle stiffness and reduce pain when applied before and after athletic events.
Rose petals have anti-inflammatory effect and are especially useful for inflammation of mouth or throat areas.
In autumn, rose hips provide horses with a lot of vitamin C.
St John's wort grows really well in our garden and is a natural pain killer and has an anti-viral effect. Valerian also has a calming effect - it supports liver function and relaxes tense muscles.
Verbena is also very useful since it has a calming effect on aggressive horses as it supports liver function.
Stinging nettles grow everywhere. They are super beneficial for the kidneys as well as the bladder since they work as a diuretic. Simply grow and mow – horses prefer them dried.
Thyme and Oregano have a beautiful smell and combined they have an anti-bacterial effect in horses.
Your herb garden
Have we inspired you to pick up the shovel and plant some herbs? If you do not have the opportunity to provide your horse with fresh plants, you can also buy them dried. Offer them individually to your animal, and let it pick for itself. You will soon notice which herbs your horse likes or needs.
If you have any question or would like more information, send me an e-mail: Nicole@kikolily.com - or simply leave a comment.