Does My Horse Need to Detox?
Life is full of toxins. From fertilizers to vaccines, chronic pain to poison based dewormers…even when you try your hardest, there is no getting away from all toxins.
So how do you know your horse needs to detox?
Some clues that your horse needs to detox may include:
*Soft, slow growing hooves
*Dull, coarse coat
*Sparse mane and tail
*Chronic pain issues (pain leads to toxins, toxins increase pain)
*”Hard or Easy Keeper” (digestive issues and sugar related issues)
Another simple test to tell if your horse needs to detox…
With a soft brush, brush off the forehead, which will remove surface layer dirt. With your fingertips briskly rub the forehead hard enough so you are getting to the skin. Look at your fingertips. Are they clean or are they covered with a grey and/or oily feeling substance? They may be anywhere from lightly covered to heavily covered with that substance. The grey, oily feeling on your fingertips is toxins coming out of the skin. As the forehead has no muscle under it, but is only skin and bone, the fact that it is showing toxins is also showing the degree to which your needs detoxed. Subsequently, when you begin detoxing your horse, the forehead will be the first to clear up, with the hindquarters clearing up last. That is due to the heavy muscles taking longer to detox.
So where does this greasy dirt come from?
Your horse’s body is a giant machine. Like any machine it needs regular “oil changes” and cleaning. In the wild, horses are naturally drawn to herbs and plants that help keep the body running smoothly. However in the “kept” horse diet, most of these items have been removed. Horses rarely get fed detox herbs, or any herbs at all (though thankfully the trend is growing!)
So what can you do to help your horse detox?
*Add 1-2 TBS of organic Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) to their feed. ACV not only helps detox the liver and kidneys but improves digestion.
*Squeeze some fresh limes or lemons and try adding a couple tablespoons to their feed. Some horses like it in their water and others will drink it straight. Works the same as Apple Cider Vinegar with some added vitamins. It is not considered a “full” detox but will aid in the process.
*If you are fortunate enough to own your own land, plant some detox herbs (many of these are kitchen herbs) on the outside of your fence line. As they grow through the fence, your horse can munch on them without destroying the entire plant.
*Try a detox formula for horses. I detox my horses at least 2 times a year. For a horse with chronic pain issues, I find keeping a low amount of detox herbs in their daily rations lowers pain levels. You can find my detox formula here.
*Think about feeding your horse a “cleaner” diet. Complete feeds are easy to use, but are full of chemicals! Some of my recommended diet changes can be seen HERE.
So how long or how often will your horse need to detox? That will depend entirely on how toxic their body is, and the diet you are feeding them daily. When I bring in a new horse, the first thing I do is start adding detox herbs to their rations. I recommend a slow detox program as quickly detoxing for the first time can lead to health issues; referred to as “healing crisis”. Some horses will detox their first time in 1-2 months but I have had horses take as long as 8 months to fully detox. The average is 4-6 months for their first detox. Your horse will let you know by how dull or shiny their coat is. During detox you may see parts of them getting shiny while other parts stay dull. This means they have not completely detoxed and you should continue with the program. Occasionally after detoxing their coat will dull after a couple of weeks.
This happens and simply means they need to continue detoxing. It shows that the body needs more time to heal.
"Slower is better" when detoxing. If their diet is changed to a “cleaner” diet (avoiding as many chemical as possible) then the average horse usually benefits from twice yearly detoxing…just to keep the engine running smoothly!
Detoxing with herbs has other great benefits. The detoxing herbs are full of vitamins and minerals! So you are not only removing harmful toxins from the body, but building the immune system as well. If you think your horse feels soft now, wait until you feel that “soft as a down feather” feel of their coat after they have gone through detox! Detoxing herbs also promotes a healthy digestive tract, which discourages parasites.
It’s a win win situation!
Warning to those horses with “special case” horses... Most horses benefit from detoxing, but it’s never a good idea to detox pregnant mares, and caution is needed with horses with metabolic issues. Take it slow and easy! Certain metabolic issues are very difficult to “guess work” when it comes to herbs, such as HYPP horses. Do your research! As good advice as anyone can give, you know your horse best. Make careful choices when special issues are involved!