Super happy herbal horses – worming naturally
As more and more horse owners seek kinder and more compassionate methods for keeping themselves and their horses in a way that is less harmful to themselves and the earth, a wealth of wisdom becomes available through the ‘lighter side’ of the internet.
I first read about the use of diatomaceous earth as a wormer and all round health balancer through the awesome website – soulofahorse.com. Nowadays, although most vets are discouraging the use of blanket wormers on a 6 weekly basis, there is still a push for a blanket worming a few times per year and whenever egg counts come back high. The usual way to control worms? Chemical dewormers.
These offer the advantage of being extremely convenient: modern dewormers usually only need a single dose every 8 to 13 weeks, making them easy to administer to the horse, and, if used properly, will indeed kill all types of worms and prevent infestation. However, as is often the case, this convenience comes at a price. They are persistent, chemical drugs, designed to kill or disable worms, and some of them, particularly the so called “combination” wormers, can have serious side effects. The horse’s body will have to process them (through the liver and kidneys), and one of them (moxidectin) is not recommended for foals or weak horses as an overdose can be very dangerous. In effect, you are administering poison.
Also to be considered is the fact that there are many good bacteria living in the horse that will be adversely affected by the chemicals used in such wormers. Drug resistance too is a growing concern for many horse owners, and rightly so, as parasite resistance has been observed with ivermectin, moxidectin, benzimidazoles, tetrapyrimidines, and piperazine. Furthermore, the dung of horses treated with such wormers cannot be used as a fertiliser on organic farms as it contains chemical residues that would kill earth worms. For all these reasons, a growing number of horse owners are now looking for more natural ways of keeping their horses worm free. And the great news is, there are a number of options!
Most of the worms that affect horses have a somewhat similar life cycle: the horse swallows the worm larvae from the pasture, the larvae then spend a period of time developing within the horse before reaching adulthood within horse’s digestive track. The worms then produce eggs that are passed in the dung onto the pasture. These eggs hatch into the infective larvae again. Breaking this life cycle through proper pasture management is an efficient and perfectly natural way of reducing worms infestation in horses.
We have been implementing a herbal worming programme for our four beautiful girlies using diatomaceous earth and a one time use of wormwood over the past month and a half. Counts went from as high as 2700 down to 575 being the highest count. Was trial and error working out dosage so we now know, as expected, for the youngest who has the weakest immune system and the pony with the highest count, we need to up it a bit more and do another bout of wormwood.
On our holistic livery in Bristol, we are also poo picking our fields daily and until we get our track system in place, are rotating paddocks every 7-10 days. The great thing about diatomaceous earth is that it is economical acting not only as a parasite control but overall well-being booster being rich in the minerals that are often unavailable in the average horse pasture. Horses are very efficient and self sufficient creatures being able to manufacture many of the vitamins they need themselves however, many natural equine nutritionists site magnesium and vitamin E as being amongst those most prominently missing from a horse’s diet. Luckily, diatomaceous earth is a great source of these. You can find articles going into more detail on this including:
Magnesium plays a significant role in a horse’s health not only physically but also emotionally. There’s a great article you can read about that here
If you have any experience with any of the subject matter here, I invite you to comment below.