My foraging activities began with stinging nettles of all things! When my daughters little welshie got caught with a mild bout of laminitis thanks to the spring grass despite strict management I felt so bad that during this period she was on none or next to no turn out at all. I wanted to do all I could to speed up her recovery so that we could get her back to enjoying herself.
Luckily for us the yard manager who began running our yard at the beginning of her recovery had a keen interesting in natural remedies. She suggested we try offering her dried nettles as they are known to contain many useful components that have anti inflammatory properties as well as absorbing free radicals damage caused by stress. So armed with marigolds, a bucket, and long armed sheers I began trimming down stingers all around our yard.
Turns out the pony loved them, so much in fact she didn’t even need them dried. I think fresh and tingly is like sherbert to her. Despite getting stung on a regular basis I carried on hunting out patches of nettles. I had to start searching further a field to satisfy her tastes too, turns out they don’t regrow as quickly as I expected.
They may not be mans best friend but some ponies just can’t get enough of them.
As well as knowing they were helping her aliment it was also nice to know I could give her some fresh greens to keep her diet varied when her grazing was very bare.
She loved the sight of her bowl coming with her afternoon snack. I think it became good enrichment breaking up her stable time.
I decided to enrich her snacks still further by adding in other plants. Obviously, I had to do my research and be careful to identify the correct plants to make sure I only fed her horse safe goodies. Over the course of the summer, we built her quite a salad including cleaver, dandelion, cow parsley, willowherb and plantin leaves to name just a few things that were all growing naturally around our locality.
I’m sure others forage all year round, but I found it harder to do as winter set in and although we were able to give pony more turn out I still wanted to support her nutrition. This is when I discovered Equipacs via a friend on the yard. The reason I love them is because Hannah selects natural ingredients which I believe is important to make it easier for the horses to absorb them. Even better is that when spring comes again I can resume foraging alongside her Equipac as they will work safely together. So our lucky pony gets the best support we can give her as naturally as possible and that is why despite foraging being time consuming I choose to do it for my pony because its rewarding, free and a skill that’s worth keeping alive so that its not lost!
If you want to give it a go my advice is do your research before hand and if you have someone in your world who already has experience soak up their real-life experience. There is also a great facebook group called Equibiome.
A guest blog written for Equipacs by grateful customer Hazel Weyman based on her experiences with her pony Willow.
Be sure to stop and explore Hazel's own business, Busy Keys! www.busykeys.co.uk