Ah, the changing of seasons. The seasons bring a fresh opportunity to start over for everyone, horses included.
While new weather not only signals the start of a bit of pep to your horse’s step, the coming of Spring and Fall is also the best time to help your horse stay healthy. Healthy from what, though?
Healthy from worms: we’re talking about deworming season. Having a complete deworming schedule ready for your horse can make a world of difference for their digestive system, emotional health, and overall well-being.
But with a plethora of clinical drugs available — all claiming various degrees of efficacy — knowing whether clinical drugs work best for deworming your horse can be tricky.
Great news: there’s a more natural way to deworm. Natural deworming starts with herbs.
Keep on reading to learn the best ways to deworm your horse naturally using mother nature’s clean and horse-friendly herbs.
Why should I deworm my horse?
Whether you have horses of your own, are managing other horses, or are just a curious philomath (a philomath is someone who loves to learn!) with a love for horses, did you know that most horses live — just like humans — with a healthy and acceptable load of parasites and bacteria in their environment?
Most horses are exposed to a low level of parasites and bacteria daily, but get this. When the parasites live in a horse’s digestive tract at unhealthy levels, the parasites live in eggs and produce larvae which can cause your horse any one or more of the following symptoms:
Inability to gain weight
Lack of energy
Poor work and/or show performance
Rough hair coat
A pot belly-like appearance (especially in younger horses)
Itchy rear end or tail
Skin sores and lesions (within the mouth, around the anus, and down the esophagus)
If a human had any of the above symptoms, we’d run straight for help. Since horses don’t speak English though, it’s up to us — their caregivers — to interpret and decipher these symptoms as cries for help to protect our equine companions from developing parasite-based illnesses (or worse yet, death!).
But knowing which types of parasites exist — and how to rid of them — is the first step in nursing your lovable equine friend back to optimal health.
What types of parasites can I find in my horse?
The most common types of parasites often found in horses who need deworming are:
Stomach bots (caused by airborne bot flies)
Tapeworms, threadworms, and pinworms are the most common types of parasitic worms found in foals, mares, and adult horses. These worms tend to burrow inside the end of the small intestine and colon, and they often appear as eggs in a horse’s feces.
Young foals (10 days old to six months old) tend to succumb to the harmful effects of threadworms. Swelling of the intestine, poor growth, depression, diarrhea, and discharge and itching of the anus are all common symptoms that worms present.
An herbal wormer-based natural supplement can easily do the trick in preventing your young foal from succumbing to the symptoms of parasitic worms. Even if they’re living with large strongyles inside them, an herb-based dewormer can help them rid of parasites.
Large and small strongyles are types of growths in the colon and large intestine. These growths contain larvae (Yuck!) that invade the large intestine. These strongyles can cause a whole range of uncomfortable symptoms for horses.
Some of the worst parasites that deworming herbs can help with are parasites that don’t present visible symptoms. Stomach bots — for example — cause lesions in the mouth, esophagus, and stomach, but present no other visible symptoms.
The lesions could explain why your horse may be reluctant to eat. The lesions are easily irritable sores that when aggravated can cause undue pain.
When should I deworm my horse?
Spring or Fall is best time for deworming. But deworming should be conducted year-round — at the very least once per year — according to the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP). To learn more about the AAEP’s recommendations for deworming and managing parasites, you can view this document (or pages 17-18 if you’re short on time).
Deworming schedule by season
We use a helpful year-round deworming schedule to monitor when we need to deworm our horses. If you learn nothing else from this blog, we hope that you take away that you’ll need to find a balance between controlling parasites and not over-deworming.
Over-deworming can promote resistance to the dewormer herbs you’re feeding your horse, which can harm your horse’s health in the long run.
What types of herbs are there for deworming?
When it comes to parasites, each has a different resistance to dewormer drugs. It’s important to find the right herbs to treat the right parasite.
There are many beneficial herbs to assist in deworming your horse naturally. The herbs come in the following categories:
Anti-Parasitic Herbs: such as chaparral, clove, and garlic. Anti-parasitic in nature, wormwood is also an excellent herb for expelling parasites, as wormwood oxygenates the blood and helps create a healthy environment for your horse (and an unpleasant one for the parasite).
Digestive herbs: such as slippery elm and cascara gently help the horse’s digestive tract evacuate the parasites from your horse’s intestines.
Blood-supporting herbs: such as chaparral help to cleanse the blood and stimulate the immune system. Chaparral is an effective antiseptic, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic herb making living and thriving as a parasite inside a horse’s body next to impossible.
Are there herbal blends that help with deworming?
Yes! While synthetic drugs like moxidectin, fenbendazole, oxibendazole, ivermectin, praziquantel, and pyrantel can kill a parasite invasion, ultimately they can take a toll on your horse’s organs and body.
Herbs work with your horse’s body to help them naturally eliminate worms. Our Herbal Wormer blend contains herbs that work naturally with the horse’s body — simply by building off your horse’s body’s natural parasite-fighting capabilities and creating an unpleasant experience for parasites.
Since parasites aren’t a problem until they stop and set up camp in the intestines, the herbs in our herbal wormer help clean out parasitic infections in the intestinal tract through tapeworm control and boosting the proper nutrients and active ingredients needed to help a horse naturally expel and fight off parasitic infections.
Herbal Wormer includes the anti-parasitic, digestive, and blood-purifying herbs mentioned in the section above to help a horse rid of parasite loads, ascarids, and fecal eggs. The best part is that there are no inactive ingredients in the blend, making it a natural remedy and logical choice for deworming.
How can I deworm my horse with herbs?
Every horse is different. Depending on if your horse is 6 months old or a fully grown adult — in conjunction with a holistic equine medicinal practitioner — you’ll want to inquire what the best deworming protocol is for your horse.
Since parasites seem to respect the lunar cycles, and because female worms ovulate between the new and full moons, deworming during lunar cycles may disrupt the egg-laying cycle. If you can disrupt the full 7-14 days-long egg-laying cycle, you disrupt the number of parasites from praying on your horse’s immune system.
Our recommendation is to administer Herbal Wormer for 10 days when you start your deworming program.
Silver Lining Herbs’ deworming program
The rule of thumb is to start in April with the first spring grass — in harmony with the new-to-full moon phases (In other words, start 10 days before the full moon and feed your horse for an additional 10 days). Next, if you wish, follow up with a fecal egg count.
May is the next best time to conduct a fecal egg count and check for parasite eggs. We recommend doing a 10-day treatment again in June if necessary.
The next worming period can be in October. Take a fecal egg count in November, and administer a 10-day treatment in December if needed. If you still encounter additional issues, you may always check our deworming schedule for more details.
Working together with your veterinarian to deworm
As our deworming schedule is a general schedule of treatment, not every schedule will work for every horse. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that it’s important to consult with your medicine specialist and equine holistic health practitioner on the best deworming schedule for your particular horse.
The schedule was created to be a general guideline with geographic location, weather, and horse type in mind.
For example, in cooler climates where parasites aren’t as prolific, you can use the herbal wormer in the Spring and Fall. In warmer climates, where the parasitic load is greater, you can use the dewormer four times a year.
Whether you have a group of young horses or heavy shedders, you know your horse best. Together with your equine health practitioner, consider deworming at a minimum of once yearly to best support your horse’s health and well-being.
A more natural way to deworm
Say goodbye to large strongyles and resistant parasites. Deworming your horse with natural herbs can help your horse shed nasty larval eggs, reduce the number of parasites affecting their immune system, and wean your horse off select drugs that could inflict undue burdens on your horse’s body.
Ultimately, herbal dewormers create an environment parasites won’t want to live in, and these herbal dewormers keep your horse happy and healthy (which is most important at the end of the day).
Whether you have a foal as young as 6 months old, a yearling, or an adult horse, herbal dewormers may even help your horse gain back lost weight, add luster and shine to their coat, and most importantly, reduce the worm-based eggs per gram (EPG) count in their bodies.
Our herbs are here to support your horse and to help them live and thrive. For more information about deworming your horse, feel free to browse our library of horse resources, or contact us today to learn how herbs can help your horse thrive.