As a horse or pony gets older, it is important to regularly assess his care and dietary needs. Herbs can play an important part in this nutritional care.
The changes in a veteran horse mean that even when a senior horse is relatively healthy, his organs and systems function less efficiently than in younger years.
Feeding herbs as a feed supplement is a good way of giving your old horse or pony some extra help to keep him healthy in his old age.
Herbs can be added fresh to a horse's feed, or there are herb supplements and mixes for sale that have been developed for equine use.
You should be able to find a herbal supplement specially formulated for senior or veteran horses.
Herbs have been used for centuries for their therapeutic properties and they are effective - it is worth remembering that many modern medicines are derived directly from plants.
Herbs are as useful for horses as they are for humans.
Some herbs which are useful for equine system support for a veteran or older horse, and are a common combination in herbal supplements for senior horses are:
Burdock Root(Arctium lappa) - this has been used for its diuretic, and liver and bile stimulating effects.
This cleansing and detoxifying action makes it effective for chronic skin complaints and it is also believed to have anti- tumour effects.
Burdock should not be given to a mare in foal due to its uterine-stimulating effects.
Clivers(Galium aparine) - also known as cleavers and goosegrass, this bitter, cooling herb acts as a tonic for the lymphatic system and has been widely used for skin conditions.
Clivers has some diuretic properties and is also sometimes used to help reduce swelling in a horse's joints and legs.
Dandelion root and leaves(Taraxacum officinale) - the dandelion, often considered to be a weed, has roots that have been used throughout history for their bile-stimulating action and beneficial effects on digestive and liver function.
Dandelion leaves have a potent diuretic action, flushing out the kidneys, and are rich in potassium, replacing that lost in the urine.
Echinacea root(Echinacea purpurea) - this is a well-known immune system stimulant. It also has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and circulation boosting effects.
Echinacea is considered by many to be the most effective detoxicant for the circulatory, lymphatic and respiratory systems of the horse.
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)- the leaves of the ancient ginkgo tree contain ginkgolides - compounds that are not found in any other plant.
These and other active substances give ginkgo biloba its reputation for having remarkable circulation stimulating properties.
Milk thistle seeds (Silybum marianum) - the seeds of this herb have been used for thousands of years for treating liver disorders.
Milk Thistle contains a compound that is reputed to have remarkable rejuvenating effects on the liver.
Nettle (Urtica dioica) - Nettle is a mild diuretic. It also promotes good circulation, and has been known to be helpful in arthritic conditions and laminitis.
Nettle is considered a good general tonic which also promotes coat and
skin health in the older horse.