Natural solutions for Equine Pain

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Natural Herbal Solutions for Your Horses' Pain


As an herbalist, people have often asked me, “what can I do for the pain of arthritis, migraine, injuries, etc?” It is no different with horses. They suffer from the same pain that we do, and from the same causes: arthritis, injury, overwork, sprains, strains, wounds and all the rest.
In traditional allopathic medicine, the answer is to suppress the symptoms. For humans, we take Advil, Oxycondone, Motrin, Aspirin, etc. For horses and other animals, we reach for Bute, Banamine, etc. While these drugs are a quick answer in acute situations, they are not an effective solution for the chronic condition. They do not work at the root of the problem.
If an animal is suffering from long-standing pain, the first thing that should be looked at if the diet. Is the feed too high in protein for the type of physical activity or workload the animal is doing? Over use of high protein overloads the kidneys to the point where they slough off toxins into the muscles and joints.

Is the feed high in toxic preservative, or unnecessary or synthesized vitamins, processed carbohydrates, contaminated fats or oils, pesticides or herbicides? Many people have found with themselves or their children, as well as their horse, dogs, or cats, that when they take them off these over-processed and toxic junk foods, in most cases the health improves, sometimes dramatically. In an older animal, a horse, for example, that is stiff and sore from arthritis or overwork, there can be an obvious improvement from dietary change alone.
Making the effort to observe a healthy, whole food diet is worth it. Food that is additive free and grown in healthy soil accompanied by plenty of exercise, fresh air, sunlight and pure water will reward your horse with abundant health, especially if the animal has access to free choice natural herbs and minerals. This is possible even in a confined space by wither setting up a separate feeding tub containing a good, natural selection of herbs and minerals or by adding natural, whole supplements to their feed.

Arthritic pain, the aggravation of other health issues and the compromising of the immune system can be noticeably lessened an even eradicated by providing pure, clean water.
Water is not just for the easing of thirst. Water is the earth’s greatest cleanser and solvent. It washes the body both inside and out. Adequate, clean water is absolutely essential for the effective functioning of the brain and nervous system. The synapses of the brain slow or fire erratically with out enough water in the system.

When the domestic horse, fenced in and unable to fend for itself, has only poor water and toxin laden foods from which to feed, the organs and glands plus the hormonal, lymphatic and electromagnetic systems of the body are weakened and can not do the continuing work of repair. Hence the muscles, joints, ligaments and sinews do not get what they need to stay in the supreme health they require in order to withstand the extreme demands made on them.
The filters of the body can only do so much when the onslaught in constant. For example, the liver is a major filter for the blood, but its work doesn’t stop there. It also has the job of manufacturing new blood cells. Furthermore, it is also the seat of emotions. A horse that has been subject to abuse, violence, chemical overdose or neglect couple with the stress of the high adrenaline lifestyle of track and other competitive equine sports may exhibit more pain than a horse that is treated with kindness and consideration. Emotional pain is often the forerunner of physical pain. Even sprain, strain and broken bones contribute to toxic levels in the liver.

The abused horse will manifest its pain in many ways: behavioral problems, nervousness, irritability, as well as physical  complaints.


Another area of concern is the hoof. A horse’s feet are sometimes a source of constant pain. When the horse has been kept shod all of its life and has not been given the opportunity to run barefoot as much as possible, discomfort with feet, legs, shoulders or hips often show up. Much had been written about this subject and I suggest the reader investigate the correct Strasser Trim method.


There are a number of things that work to calm and relax your horse, which in turn can do much to ease pain. Brushing and massage are a good start. There are good instructions available to make the massage of your horse a corrective measure, as well as a calming influence.


Among the First Nations Peoples, the use of a Sage smudge is of great benefit. With an eye to the fire prevention, build a small fire of hay or star in a fire proof container, such as an old pot or aluminum plate. When it is burning well, drop a small handful of sage in the middle. If you only have dry sage, place a large handful on top of the flames. You want to snuff the flames but allow enough burn to create heavy smoke. Pass or blow this smoke around and under the horse, allowing it to breathe in the vapors as well. This has a remarkable calming and healing effect.

There are many other plants that can be used as an effective smudge and also as an effect aid to relieve insect irritation. Motherwort, juniper leaves, cedar leaves are only a few that can be mentioned. Research the uses of whatever herbs, bushes and trees grow in your area.
With the competitive horse, a chunk of fresh ginger about the size of the first joint of your thumb, chopped small and added to their food daily, has shown to be extremely beneficial. This work to assist the immune system but studies in human have shown the long term effect of daily use also eradicates most arthritic pain.


One of our most widely used formulas contains garlic, rose hips and oregano.  Oregano contains some very strong anti-oxidant chemicals.  Oxidation is part of the inflammatory process, the sloughing off of dead, inflamed tissue into the system along with associated pain.

Oregano has many other beneficial properties as well: immune booster, volatile oils that are effective3 against insect irritation, fungus, airborne bacteria and the beautification of the hair and coat. Oregano combined with high quality garlic, become a dramatic combination.

Garlic…let me count the ways it benefits the health! Some trainers and owners won’t feed it to the horses because they do not want the garlic odor on the horse’s breath or they do not want the odor in their barn. Besides a noticeable reduction in the fly population, we see an improved function of the immune system and cardiovascular health, excess mucus reduction and better circulation and healthier blood. The reduction of pain and arthritis symptoms must be strongly noted. Garlic, we believe, is essential in the life of the heavily competing equine athlete. Even pleasure horses, particularly older horses, live longer, healthier lives, and are more pain free when garlic is a part of their daily ration.

St John’s Wort is another effective herb that is commonly known today for its use in assisting the relief of depression and behavior problems. Anciently, this herb was widely used both topically and internal for arthritic symptoms and pain. As an external poultice for sore and inflamed joints, mixed with garlic, turmeric, cod liver oil or olive oil, it can be excellent for the relief of the pain and swelling of arthritis. It is even effective for bruising from injury.


 Devil’s Claw root, also known as Nature’s Bute, is another well known and effective aid in the relief of pain from arthritis, bruises and strains. It is an excellent anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic, especially when combined in proper amounts with Myrrh and Yucca. Devil’s Claw Root is used to effectively bother internally and topically.

Older horses respond well when Tumeric is added to the daily diet. Anything that works to aid in building and maintaining a healthy immune system will also work to lessen the pain of arthritis and help in the healing of injuries. Some of these herbs are Schizandra berries, Astragalus, Sioberian Ginseng and Eucommia dark. White Willow bark is excellent for pain, Rue for tendon problems, Comfrey, in safe and compatible amounts in short term use, is very good for broken and bruised bones.

The homeopathics; Arnica, Rhus Tox, Bellis Perrennis, Silicea, etc., are all very useful for pain and aiding in the healing of broken bones, torn muscles and other athletic injuries.
Many of our formulas, which are designed to nurture the nervous system, also assist in alleviating arthritic pain. The reverse is also true; formulas designed to alleviate pain and arthritis may also calm the nervous horse due to the properties which encourage the body to product dopamine, the chemical that the brain releases to cause to feel good. Herbs have been used as long as we have existed. They are compatible to the workings of the living body, whether animal or human. They work to build the body up, rather than the dubious effect of symptom suppression that may rather work to break the body down. It had been our experience that the timely and generous use of certain herbs can not only alleviate pain, but often correct the underlying cause. We recommend you study this issue.

We are here for you, not only as a source of proven herbal combinations that work to support the good health of your horse, but also as caring consultants in your journey toward greater understanding and better health, both for you and those magnificent animals, the competitive horses, that are in your care. God bless you in all your endeavors.

This article is informational only and in no way replaces professional veterinary advice or treatment. Always consult with you veterinarian and equine herbalist before using herbal formulas.