He is cheered again and again and fed enthusiastically: whether for osteoarthritis, digestive problems, or for anti-inflammatory purposes – giving ginger to horses seems to be almost a panacea. But is that really he? We reveal what’s in the tuber and how it works in the animal’s body. Read here when it makes sense to feed the medicinal plant and what risks you should be aware of!
The Ginger Under a Magnifying Glass
Before we devote ourselves specifically to ginger in horse feeding, let’s take a closer look at the root itself. Where does it come from? Since when has it been consumed by humans and animals and what effect is it expected to have? We want to shed light on these points here.
The Origin of Ginger
The ginger probably originally comes from the Asian regions, but the exact homeland can no longer be traced today. The fact is that the approximately 1 to 1.50-meter high leaf plant with the botanical name Zingiber officinale prefers the subtropical to tropical climate.
Nowadays the plants are preferably grown in India, Nepal, China, and Nigeria. But other Asian, African, and South American countries also supply us Europeans. Because in the local climes, cultivation is only possible in the greenhouse. But why is the tuber becoming more and more popular? The wide range of possible uses is largely to blame for this.
Versatile: What Can the Tuber Do?
In many Asian countries, ginger was initially used as a spice plant. After all, the tuber has a sharp, spicy taste that otherwise – before the introduction of the chili – could hardly find its way into the kitchen. It was a standard ingredient for curries, chutneys, and jams. The plant was also popular as tea.
But that’s not all: In traditional Chinese medicine, the tuber has been used for more than two thousand years to ward off or alleviate colds and to get the digestive system going. Even then, the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that are proven today, as well as the stimulating effect on gastric juice, bile and saliva production, were recognized.
What works in humans can certainly also be transferred to animals – that is how the researchers thought. And in fact, ginger has been officially used as a medicine for horses in Europe since 2002.
Feeding Ginger to Horses: When Does It Make Sense?
It is above all the gingerols and shogaols that humans make use of when feeding ginger to horses. These are bitter or pungent substances, which are supposed to provide relief for various health complaints. We’ll tell you now what exactly they are and how to do it.
Use ginger to inhibit inflammation in horses
Sometimes it is actually the same with animals as it is with humans. Because just as the tuber is used against osteoarthritis complaints, it is also used in horses. Here the owner makes use of the anti-inflammatory and at the same time stimulates blood flow. The ingredient gingerol is largely responsible for this. It inhibits the effects of the enzyme cyclooxygenase-2, which is involved in inflammation in rheumatism and osteoarthritis, for example.
This anti-inflammatory effect can also be beneficial for chronic joint problems. In the case of acute injuries, however, it is always important to weigh up. Because ginger also has pain-relieving properties that can simply suppress the symptoms. It is, therefore, best to work with a cure. If you put the tuber down again, you can assess whether there has been permanent improvement or only temporary relief.
By the way: In the case of latex or laminitis, for example, feeding ginger for horses is not recommended. Because with these diseases it is extremely important that the horse is gentle on itself. The pain that arises from jerky movements is a kind of natural brake and protects the joints in the long term.
A Tuber to Aid Digestion
We have already mentioned it above: The bitter substances in ginger ensure that the flow of bile and the formation of saliva and gastric juice are stimulated. This can be very useful for some diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Particularly in the case of loss of appetite, the root can be given situationally and acutely.
But be careful! In some cases, there is already an overproduction of gastric acid, which is what causes digestive problems. In this case, ginger would do exactly the opposite in horses and make symptoms even worse. If you are unsure what the problem is, it is best to discuss the use of the root with your veterinarian beforehand!
Caution! Side effects when giving ginger
We have indicated it again and again, but want to say it again in concrete terms: You should always be a little careful with the gift of ginger for horses. After all, when feeding in too high spirits, various side effects can occur. This includes:
- Irritation of the gastric mucosa
- Inflammation of the lining of the esophagus
- Allergic reaction
- Miscarriages in pregnant mares
To be on the safe side, it is always better to discuss the addition of ginger for horses with your vet first. If it is not yet clear where the present complaints actually come from, he will first examine your animal carefully. He can then also make a recommendation as to whether or not it makes sense to give the tuber.
By the way: Particular caution is always required in the case of acute complaints. Because ginger tends to suppress pain – an effect that is definitely helpful for chronic, incurable diseases such as osteoarthritis. However, as already described above, these are necessary for some brief inflammations so that the horse really relieves the corresponding parts of the body. Only in this way can they heal.
The Be-all and End-all: Ginger Dose for Horses
In order to avoid the above-mentioned side effects and instead benefit from the positive properties of ginger for horses, the dosage is crucial. As a rule, around 3 to 4 g of the tuber per 100 kg of the horse’s own weight are recommended. For an animal weighing 600 kg, this means an amount of around 20 g per day.
If there are chronic complaints, such as osteoarthritis, the root can definitely be given permanently. In this case, however, it is best to have the horse’s blood values checked regularly in order to identify any abnormalities in good time. If you only want to benefit from the digestive or anti-inflammatory effects for a short time, a cure is more suitable.
Caution! Ginger is a doping agent because it can promote motivation. It is therefore imperative that you withdraw your gift no later than 48 hours before a tournament. In addition, the tuber should never be fed to pregnant mares – unless childbirth is to be initiated – as it promotes labor.
Feeding Ginger to Horses
Have you decided to give your horse ginger? Then the first hurdle is likely to be getting the animal to actually eat the tuber. After all, it tastes very hot. It is therefore only taken up in its pure form in the rarest of cases. Instead, it is better to use granules, which consist of dried fibers and have a much less intense aroma.
Then start feeding small. First, give only a small dose in the feeding trough – preferably together with the mineral feed. Then slowly increase this to the desired amount. This is how your horse gets used to the pungent taste. Alternatively, you can mix the root with fresh apple or carrot pieces. Their own aromas mostly cover up those of the tuber.