What You Need to Know when Feeding Garlic to Horses

Horse Health

Garlic has been used medicinally for about 5000 years. This well known plant, of which the bulb is used, is widely cultivated. With many of us supplementing our horses with garlic it is important to understand both the pros and cons of feeding garlic to our beloved horses.

Garlic has several actions:

• Antibiotic – treats a bacterial based condition.

• Expectorant – assists in the break up and moving of mucous and phlegm.

• Antihistamine – reduced inflammation caused by pollens, dusts and other allergy producing substances.

• Antiparasitic – removed parasites such as intestinal worms which colonise your horse’s gut.

In human research, it has to reduce blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. Eating garlic releases strong aromatic compounds which are excreted through the skin and acts as a fly repellent.

The uses of garlic are many. This herb is very beneficial for horses with allergic coughing, and bronchitis. It is a useful addition to antibiotic treatments in cases of infection. The blood-cleansing action makes regular use of garlic a good preventative measure for horses prone to laminitis and sweet itch. A poultice of crushed fresh cloves can be used for infected or dirty wounds.

Although garlic can be fed fresh at the rate of up to five cloves per day, most horses prefer a proprietary powder, mixed into the feed at a rate of up to 50 g per day.

Garlic can be detrimental to your horse’s health if fed long term. Research has shown that long term use of garlic can decrease your horse’s red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen around your horse’s body. Each red blood cell carries four oxygen molecules.

When your horse has low numbers of red blood cells it is called anaemia. Symptoms range from mild to severe and with normal dosage of garlic it is often difficult to tell. However, long term used of garlic can affect your horse’s stamina, energy level, and resistance to disease.

Garlic should be used for the short term treatment of a condition, not as a regular supplement.


Spending Time Estabulising a Great, Strong Trot is Essentail


Protecting and strengthening the horses back is essential to allowing it to get stronger slowly and therefore cope with the long term rigors of riding. The latest research helps you understand how this works and how you can use this information to get the most out of your horse.

Scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna’s Movement Science Group have measured the pressures created when an experienced rider rode 10 different sound horses at the sitting trot, rising trot, and in the two-point (jumping) position. Each rider held each seat position for 20 seconds.

The aim was to see which seat position provides the most stability for the rider and which was least stressful for the horse.

The researchers looked at rider stability by determining the movement of the centre of the rider’s seat (or area of most pressure). The pressure up and down was measured and side to side to see which most affected the horse in each position. Statistical calculations were used to determine the highest and lowest points of stability in each of the three different positions.

The results were that sitting trot created the highest load on the horses back, followed by the rising trot and finally the two-point (jumping) seat. The rider’s back is most stable in the two-point position, and places the least amount of load on the horse’s back. In all positions movement on the rise and fall of the riders up and down accounted for the most differences in load. The rider’s side to side movement had no effect at all on the horse.

Sitting Trot

Long and Low Horse with Rider doing Rising Trot
The two-point seat puts less load on the horses back because the joints in the rider’s legs, especially the knee and, to a lesser extent the hip and ankle, act as shock absorbers. As the horse’s body bounces up and down in the trot, the rider’s joints flex and extend to maintain the rider’s back in a consistent position with the horse, moving up and down beneath him/her. The rider’s joints act to provide a cushioning effect and avoid large fluctuations in pressure on the horse’s back as compared with the sitting trot, in which the rider’s body moves with the horse.

So why is this important? For young horses require time to grow and strengthen. Many riders underestimate the time, consistency or importance of allowing their horses muscles to strengthen and develop prior to trying more sophisticated movements.

Another reason why this information is crucial for riders to know is the effective rehabilitation of horses with back problems. Most riders spend a fortunate on getting treatment for our horses when things go wrong. Treating back problems are certainly no exception.

Horses recovering from back problems need to be bought back into work with as little stress on the horse as possible , a combination of the rising trot and two-point positions provides optimal training conditions without overloading the horse’s back. Keeping the riders position stable is now scientifically proved to be the least stressful for the horse.

What Do You Need to Know about Barefoot Trimming

The horse’s hoof is a very specialised structure. It is designed to:

• Resist wear

• Support the horse’s body weight

• Absorb concussion

The hoof is a continuation of modified skin cells similar to horn, claws and nails of other species.

The question many horse owners are passionate about is: to shoe or not to shoe?

The Barefoot Trim

The barefoot trim is designed to give your domestic horse the same shape as a horse would have in the wild. People who support barefoot trimming say that if it happens naturally in the wild with the horse’s evolution over 65 million years then it must be the best way to keep your horse’s hooves. They equate the barefoot trim as ‘natural’.

This natural design is based largely on the study of the mustang hoof in the USA. This wear is associated with specific hoof shape caused by the mid western North American environments.

Traditionally farriers have trimmed both shoed and non shod horses however those who are passionate about having horses trimmed in the barefoot method say this is an error. The technique required to perform correct barefoot trims are quite different to the normal way a farrier would trim a horse when preparing it for shoeing.

So let us evaluate the differences:

The Traditional Trim

• Heels are left longer than the barefoot trim.

• The bottom of the hoof edge is rasped sharp.

• The toe is left longer and sharper than a barefoot trim.

The Barefoot Trim

• The foot has a more petite look as the trimmer removes more hoof off the heel.

• All of the flare for the hoof wall is removed.

• The hoof is trimmed to allow break-over.

Break-over occurs when the front of the hoof of the front feet is angled and bevelled. It eliminates the long sharp toe. This action is set to provide a more natural pivot point in the horses stride. This is said to allow the flex and mechanics to the hoof and leg structures, are more natural and better for the horse.

The barefoot trimmer focuses on ensuring a heel first landing which places the bulk of the horse’s weight onto the horse heel therefore making the most the important mechanisms within the hoof that dissipates shock and the concussive forces. Traditional trimming tends to give the horse a toe-first landing. Horses which are kept barefoot are thought to have a reduced risk of injury, an overall proper balance of motion and improved performance.

When to Consider Traditional Shoeing

For some people the work that is required from the horse involves high levels of road work and long hours of work. Some horses require a great deal of traction in areas of high level jumping and eventing. Competing on grass which is often hard and dry or wet and slippery without studs in shoes can also make it difficult for the horse to prevent slips and falls.

So what do you do?

If your horse doesn’t need shoes don’t put them on. It is better to choose to go barefoot than being shod if you can. It is better for your horse’s hoof, balance, ongoing soundness and also your wallet!

However like anything a trim is only as good as the person doing it. It is important to remember that no trim should ever leave your horse lame and a trim should never draw blood.

It is important for you to remember there are charlatans out there masquerading as experts who have left horse hooves ‘naturally trimmed’ leaving them with radical and bloody results, which have had fatal consequences.

A good hoof trim is a good hoof trim regardless of who does it, farrier, barefoot trimmer or horse owner.