Red clover for horses

This herb has many different uses for treating horses.

Red clover, can be used to make a herbal tea for feeding to horses.
Photo: Kim Dyson

Most plants have common names, which vary from area to area. Often one name can cover a variety of plants. My grandmother, a highly capable gardener, always said that it was impolite to refer to a plant by its common name unless you knew it personally. She insisted that I learn the botanical names, saying that any gardener worth his or her salt would then know exactly which plant I was referring to.

Herbs have been used for centuries for their healing properties, for making perfumes and for helping to enhance the taste of food. They do not need to be grown in their own beds. They are happy among your flowers. However, it can never be over-emphasised that any herbs, whether they are to be eaten or used medicinally, must be grown organically.

Use well-rotted homemade compost and manure from animals that are only fed and treated organically. You are ingesting what you feed to your plants. Trifolium pratense, or red clover, is a meadow plant. Many years ago, it was grown as a feed for cattle. I have found that mixing red clover seed into my paddock grass helps my horses to self-medicate.

Clover flowers can be used on horses in many ways. It makes an excellent blood cleanser. And it is a wonderful remedy for skin disorders such as sweet itch. Remember, though, most horses go through a healing crisis when you start with red clover. This is because the body is expelling toxins. If the skin condition gets worse, this is cause for celebration. If your horse has been ill and depressed for a while with no definite diagnosis by a vet, red clover makes an excellent tonic.

Soothing cough syrup
Horses with bronchial conditions such as flu have been found to respond positively to red clover. Make a cough syrup by mixing 1l water, 45g dried red clover and 100g xylitol, and boiling until a syrup consistency is reached. Allow to cool. Give one tablespoon three times a day. You can also make a tea. Add 40g dried herbs to 300ml water, boil, then add the herbal tea to your horse’s feed. Do this twice a day.

Crushed clover flowers
If your horse has mange, crush fresh red clover flowers and rub them into the affected area. If you do not have enough flowers, boil what you have in 5l of water until the water changes colour (usually after 10 minutes). Wash the affected skin and allow to dry. Remember: all illnesses and remedies should first be discussed with a vet.

Phone Kim Dyson on 082 888 6511.