Because it is often not possible to recreate a 'natural' environment for your horse, an excellent alternative is to make up your own natural supplements to feed on a daily basis to maintain health. By tapping into ancient wisdom, you can create a natural supplement program, for very little cost and effort. These 'tonic' natural products are simply added to the daily feed, and you will be surprised at how quickly the horses learn to savor them.
For Iron, Vitamin C and Kidney Health:
Boil a jug of water in the tack room every day and add 6 Rosehips tea bags or a dessertspoon of Rosehips granules. When this has gone cold, use the concentrated tea to dampen feed. There is no better source of Vitamin C and plenty of Iron in Rosehips along with Copper and Cobalt. Rosehips are also a major Kidney Tonic and a Blood Cleanser and have positive benefits to the Liver and to the Circulatory System as a whole.
Don't feed electrolytes and especially never use diuretics or potassium salts - these substances weaken the kidneys very quickly. Rock or sea salt should be offered as a block or a 'lick' or provided in a tray nailed up on a wall somewhere under cover, for the animal to choose for itself when and how much it needs.
For Healthy Ligaments and Bones:
Feed one half cupful of millet (freshly ground or whole) daily. Millet is very high in organic silica, and it is silica and not calcium, which is usually lacking when, bone weakness or immaturity is a problem. Give also one half cupful of linseed (freshly ground or whole) daily. Linseed has an affinity for ligaments and restores elasticity to them - it will tighten ligaments, which are too loose and loosen those which are too tight. Offer Dolomite, which is balanced natural source of Calcium and Magnesium, again in a tray nailed up on a wall somewhere under cover, for the animal to choose for itself.
Rub on Linseed Oil and Comfrey combinations or apply them as poultices to areas of bone or ligament immaturity, weakness, damage or injury.
Resolve bone and soft tissue bruising with Arnica. Use healthy inflammation and pain management during recovery but don't mask pain so much that the animal cannot judge what and how much it should exercise an injured bone or ligament. Don't lock horses up during recovery. Restrict them to a small yard and remove distractions but allow them to move around to flex and exercise and support the healing process.
For Immune System Protection:
Make a mixture by pushing peeled cloves of garlic and a few slices of lemon into a tub of molasses and give a half a cup of the resultant mix daily to your horse, cloves and all. Garlic and molasses are both high in sulfur, Garlic is a natural antibiotic and Lemon is an astringent tonic, a source of organic acids and of additional Vitamin C. After a short time the horses will take fresh Lemon and whole cloves of Garlic from your hand as a treat. A few cloves and the odd lemon can then be given a couple of times a week as a general immunity and blood tonic.
Preparations of Anti-oxidants like Maritime Pine and Rosehips; Blood Cleansers like Echinacea and Fennugreek; and Anti-bacterial, Anti-fungal and Anti-viral agents like Cider Vinegar and Colloidal Silver, will promote serious resilience in the immune system. These can be used with increased doses of the routine supplements above, at times of shock, injury, infection or illness.
Trace Elements and Minerals:
A small amount of Kelp (Bladderack), an excellent source of trace elements, either ground or in liquid form every few days is enough. Often the recommended dose for seaweed products is many times higher than is required. It is not harmful to give these larger doses, just wasteful.
Be wary of any product, which has already been ground or cooked as the nutritional value of all seeds begins to deteriorate very quickly after grinding, and the equine metabolism was not designed for cooked food.
It is also important, if possible, to buy feed that is grown free of chemical sprays (forget the 'conditioned' hay that is widely advertised), and in paddocks that have nutritionally balanced soil (unfortunately a rare commodity in Australia).
A good general rule of thumb in selecting feed is to bear in mind that the more processed a feed product is - the less value it has nutritionally, and the more costly it is to buy. For example Lucerne hay (inexpensive, high nutrition value, high in fiber) becomes chaff (more expensive, less long fiber) which is compressed into pellets (more expensive again and usually with additives). Try to stick to whole, chemical-free, natural products if you can.