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The Natural Way - specialized in itching and skin complaints and the natural treatment of horses with sweet itch, mud fever and CPL. 

The last week of September 2023 we organized CPL WEEK on our social media channels, an educational week where each day a CPL-related theme was highlighted, ranging from skin care, nutrition, management and more.

All informative posts were collected and reworked into this blog so that everyone can consult them quickly and easily. Enjoy reading!


CPL oil The Natural Way Laura Cleirens 100% natural product medium solution CPL Chronic Progressive Lymphedema horses sober breed draft horse cold blood Friesian Tinker Cob Shire MLD therapist Manual Lymphatic Drainage sock horse socks mites legs wallpaper wounds folds skin

Nimbly© The Natural Way



- Cause and symptoms
- CPL stages and progression

- The lymphatic function
- Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD)

- Natural skin care
- Chemical agents
- Shaving socks
- Parasites (mites)

- General nutritional tips
- Roughage
- Grazing
- Supplementary nutrition and balancers
- Spices
-- Great burdock (Arctium lappa)
-- Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
-- Cleaver (Galium aparine)
-- Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica)
- OER FOOD (E-book)

- Free movement
- Hoof mechanism and trimming
- General management tips

Nimbly© The Natural Way


CPL is the abbreviation of Chronic Progressive Lymphedema, a hereditary condition that, as the name suggests, is characterized by its chronic and progressive nature. We therefore speak of a (temporarily) incurable condition with complaints that increase/worsen with age.

I understand that you may feel discouraged for a moment when your horse receives this diagnosis. But fortunately you can do a lot to stabilize and slow down the complaints. For the time being, this is by treating symptomatically and optimizing management.

Sock horses such as draft horses, Tinkers, Friesians, Shires, Clydesdales, ... are cold-blooded breeds that belong to the risk group. Research shows that 86% of draft horses over 3 years old show signs of CPL. The first very mild clinical signs appeared as early as 1 year of age.

There are different CPL stages, ranging from minor complaints - the skin is supple and there is no swelling or skin folds - to extreme complaints - where there are skin folds, bumps, wounds, mite infestation, skin flakes, blood and pus. You clearly recognize the gradations here.

In the early stages you may first recognize spots on the lower legs that fall under the category of mud fever. However, you should take this very seriously and treat it immediately. In further stages - when complaints are not recognized or not treated correctly - you will discover skin folds and lumps - accumulations of fluid, proteins and waste - but also small wounds on the back of the front knees that are difficult to heal and folds and wounds on the front of the hock joint. (See photos.) Dander usually indicates a mite infestation.

We now know how to recognize CPL symptoms. But do these complaints actually come from?

In horses with CPL, the lymphatic vessels no longer function as desired due to a lack of elastin in the tissues, causing fluid and waste products to accumulate in the lower legs and become visible as skin folds and swollen legs. So there are circulation problems in the lower legs, both fluid and blood flow more slowly, and that causes a lot of complaints.

But a condition does not exist in isolation. There is always a total picture, a combination of circumstances and factors that maintain complaints. With CPL, as with other skin conditions, we also see intestinal problems, disturbances in metabolism and blood sugar levels. This will be explored further this week.

What you can do now is feel between your horse's socks with your fingers, there can be a lot hidden underneath, especially in the case of early complaints. Do you feel wounds, folds or other suspicious things such as skin flakes? If you suspect or are at risk of CPL, it may be useful to shave the socks. This way you get a clear picture of the condition of the lower legs. As your horse gets older, the complaints also worsen. Therefore, make sure you take preventive steps and take all complaints seriously. The theme of shaving/not shaving will be discussed in detail this week.

Are you the owner of a Sock Horse and are you now thinking... damn, how could I have overlooked these complaints? Or... oops, my horse is clearly already in a further stage, what should I do now?

Don't worry, we will help you on your way in the coming days!


CPL oil The Natural Way Laura Cleirens 100% natural product medium solution CPL Chronic Progressive Lymphedema horses sober breed draft horse cold blood Friesian Tinker Cob Shire MLD therapist Manual Lymphatic Drainage sock horse socks mites legs wallpaper wounds folds skin


CPL oil© The Natural Way



This day is entirely dedicated to the lymphatic system. A fascinating theme in the CPL story.

The lymphatic system and blood vessel system run parallel to each other and work closely together. In horses, the lymphatic system consists of +- 8,000 lymph nodes (in humans only +- 400 to 600) and +- 2 liters of lymph fluid is pumped to the bloodstream per hour (in humans only +- 2 liters per day).

However, the lymphatic system does not have a pump - such as blood pumped by the heart - but the lymphatic function is stimulated by movement. Free movement and a well-functioning hoof mechanism are of great importance. Standing still for too long causes fluid and waste products to sink to the lower legs and stagnate there.

The lymphatic system purifies the body of waste products, proteins, red blood cells, etc. These substances first end up at the lymph nodes - also called glands - where lymphocytes are located. These are white blood cells that provide the immune system. It is nice to know that the skin of horses is divided into 7 skin segments, each with a drainage point where lymph nodes are collected. From here, lymph is drained to the terminus – the drainage point for the shoulder blade – and then enters the bloodstream. Lymph is a clear fluid.

Good lymphatic circulation is very important for the immune system to function optimally. Problems with the transport of lymphatic fluid arise for various reasons such as heredity, inadequate nutrition, limited exercise options, stress and trauma.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is recommended for horses with CPL. It is a gentle, soothing massage technique that activates the lymphatic system and helps, among other things, with the removal of waste and fluid (up to 75%), supporting the immune system and recovery. Because this massage addresses the parasympathetic nervous system, cortisol levels can decrease. The less stress your horse experiences, the better the drainage capacity works and the body can heal. An overstressed lymphatic system cannot function optimally. This really requires relaxation.

Especially in the early stages of CPL, the effects of MLD are clearly visible because the skin folds become softer and the legs become slimmer again. Circulation is stimulated and complaints remain under control. By applying tape, the treatment can last longer, we then speak of lymphatic taping.

Unfortunately, MLD is not a solution as CPL is still incurable for the time being, but when the treatment is applied regularly it is a nice addition to delaying the progressive nature.

Any period is suitable for starting MLD, but winter is the ideal period for itch-sensitive horses. It provides support in cleaning up the liver, which can function better again, which benefits horses in the spring.

Stand next to your horse and place your hand gently on his/her body. You are already touching the superficial lymphatic vessels. Cool huh! That is why MLD is such a gentle massage technique. But the lymphatic system also runs deeper in the body, such as near the intestines.

I received basic Manual Lymph Drainage years ago during my acupressure and Equine Bodywork training, but I do not work as an MLD therapist. I would like to refer you to a professional from my network. Feel free to send me an email:


CPL oil The Natural Way Laura Cleirens 100% natural product medium solution CPL Chronic Progressive Lymphedema horses sober breed draft horse cold blood Friesian Tinker Cob Shire MLD therapist Manual Lymphatic Drainage sock horse socks mites legs wallpaper wounds folds skin

Nimbly with CPL oil © The Natural Way



Today we're diving into my favorite topic: skin care.

Skin care is almost a daily activity for horses with CPL. You want to act preventively as much as possible to prevent complaints, stabilize them and slow down the progressive course.

CPL oil from The Natural Way is recommended for daily skin care. This is a 100% natural and complete care product that I have specifically designed to treat sock horses in all CPL stages. There was a need for a complete product, so it is unique in its kind.

CPL oil ensures that lymph circulation is stimulated, the skin becomes/remains supple and soft, wounds are cared for and the skin can recover. Without unnecessary additions, but only ingredients of natural origin: based on sweet almond oil and essential oils. It is very nice that CPL oil is recommended by MLD therapists and equine doctors, for which many thanks!

Click here for more information about CPL oil - The Natural Way

Parasites sometimes make treating CPL really difficult. For example, horses with CPL regularly suffer from mites ( Chorioptes bovis), a parasite that runs on your horse's lower legs and eats skin flakes. They can also occur higher up, but these mites really like sweltering places such as your horse's socks. A common question is whether or not shaving is recommended.

Socks are on the one hand a natural protection for your horse, but on the other hand they are also a hindrance. Symptoms, especially early ones, are often overlooked because a lot can be hidden under your horse's lush socks. Scanning the legs has often proven to be insufficient. If you suspect CPL, it is therefore interesting to shave so that you can form a clear picture of the severity of the complaints. If your horse reacts with skin sensitivity to shaving and/or new hair growth after shaving, then cutting the socks short is also a good option.

To treat CPL properly, it is extremely important that you can really reach the skin. Keep dander to a minimum - as it is food for mites - by brushing it out regularly. Shaving immediately makes your horse's lower legs less attractive to parasites.

It has also proven to be inconvenient to have a lot of wallpaper during rainy periods. You can hardly get wet socks dry and the weight of them can push the lymphatic vessels closed, which does not benefit the circulation in the lower legs. Washing is possible, but keep it to a minimum, for example when treating mites or freshening up the lower legs. You want to burden the skin flora as little as possible, so always choose a natural shampoo without unnecessary additives.

Does your horse regularly have itchy lower legs? Then there may be a mite infestation. In that case, contact your vet first. Effective treatment starts with a correct diagnosis. This is determined by means of a scraping of the skin that is examined under the microscope. Your vet can also provide you with a suitable solution for washing your horse's legs, the environment and any herd companions. Clean and disinfect the stable. Mites can survive for weeks. Always use clean items, such as a clean towel to wipe your legs dry, treat your brushes, pads, etc.

We asked MLD therapist @tink_lymphedrainage which products she currently sees in her practice as having the most effective results in the treatment of mite infestation. Because we believe that sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees.

We start with the chemical products, not necessarily attractive to use but usually effective. Your regular vet can prescribe Byemite. This is diluted in water and then applied to the skin. Cydectin pour-on is also available by prescription. Flea pipettes for dogs such as those from Frontline are regularly used, one pipette per leg. In case of serious mite infestation, the vet can also give two injections of Dectomax. This then reaches the lower legs via the bloodstream. Unfortunately, this is not effective in all cases, as horses with CPL already suffer from circulation complaints in the lower legs. Naturally, you want to reach the crime scene as best as possible.

When looking at natural mite control, we can wholeheartedly recommend our 100% natural Nature Shampoo , based on essential oils and aloe vera. Mites are absolutely not fans of this, so we are even more so!

We also see natural remedies such as diatomaceous earth, which it is especially important to treat very consistently. Products containing propolis are also effective, but make sure you do not skip any parts and that you repeat the treatment in a timely manner. Remove as many flakes as possible and make sure that the mite infestation is really kept under control, as every inflammatory reaction causes a further exacerbation. Mites cannot move in oil, which is why CPL oil is also easy to use.

Prevention is still better than cure, but it is not an easy job to completely prevent parasites. The message is therefore to treat it consistently every day, repeat it in a timely manner and work very thoroughly.

Daily skin care has proven invaluable in controlling CPL and slowing its progressive progression. So there is a lot of profit to be made here!


CPL oil The Natural Way Laura Cleirens 100% natural product medium solution CPL Chronic Progressive Lymphedema horses sober breed draft horse cold blood Friesian Tinker Cob Shire MLD therapist Manual Lymphatic Drainage sock horse socks mites legs wallpaper wounds folds skin


CPL herbs © The Natural Way


Horses that belong to the CPL risk group are sober breeds. Although every horse is unique and nutrition is also tailor-made, we can give some basic recommendations for a good ration.

In any case, delete what does not fit: no concentrates, no grains, no alfalfa.

If a deficiency of certain vitamins and minerals is diagnosed or you want to prevent deficiencies, a balancer can be a nice addition. Preference for a balancer with timothy or esparcette and therefore no lucerne (alfalfa), as this causes itching in many frugal breeds.

Choose supplementary feed / balancer with a sugar + starch content of max. 10% together, for very sensitive horses or even max. 6-7% together for overweight horses. CPL complaints are worsened by excessive sugar and starch intake. In addition, choose food with a protein content between 6-9%.

For roughage, choose high-quality dry hay - preferably with less than 7% sugar content - tied in strings. No haylage or pit. The longer the fibers, the better for chewing.

Pasture grazing is possible, but must be adapted to the needs of your horse. You can limit grass intake through strip grazing or a grazing basket. Some horses thrive better in a paddock with hay and in that case it is better to avoid grazing completely.

Always take a few weeks to make feed changes, both for grass, hay and supplementary feeding.

Herbs are also a valuable addition. We discuss my 4 favorite CPL herbs below, but there are of course many more.

Burdock burdock (Arctium lappa) or as I like to call them: “pearl bulbs”. 'Grappa' means 'to grab'. Have you ever taken your horse out of the pasture with an exploded mane or tail that takes you hours to get the balls out again? That's really fun, especially when they're in seed... Can you tell that I'm speaking from experience?

Fortunately, Burdock is also a great friend of ours, because the root has a beneficial effect on all kinds of skin conditions, such as dander and hair loss. It supports wound healing, has a blood purifying and disinfectant effect. In addition, it can be used for rheumatic complaints, and has a detoxifying and liver-stimulating effect.

You can dig up large burdock root in the fall and early spring or purchase it dried. This contains vitamins C, B1, B2, B3, B6, E and biotin; and minerals silicon, phosphorus, iron, zinc, sodium, sulfur, manganese etc.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) stimulates the liver and has a diuretic effect. It lowers blood sugar levels and also increases resistance, which is ideal for itch-sensitive horses.

In the spring you can pick the flowers and offer them fresh leaves. In the autumn you can dig out the root, where all the forces are stored.

Contains bitter substances, vitamin B1, B2, B3, C and beta-carotene, flavonoids, calcium, magnesium, etc.

Cleaver (Galium aparine) is perhaps one of the most well-known herbs among the sock horse population. It really is the perfect support for itch-sensitive horses that suffer from sweet itch, mud fever and CPL. In fact, all conditions where the removal of waste products could use a boost.

Cleavers not only stick to your clothing or the fur of animals, it also effectively removes waste products from the horse's body. In addition, it helps with inflammation, tissue repair and itching and has a blood purifying effect. You can give cleavers to your horse fresh or dried.

Cleaver contains flavonoids, coumarin, organic acids, etc.

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is known as a weed, but this star really deserves a podium place when it comes to medicinal properties. Nettle has a blood and lymph purifying, deacidifying and detoxifying effect. It boosts your horse's resistance, so be sure to pick the fresh tops in the spring and the seeds in the fall. This is pure power food!

You can cut nettles at the edge of your pasture and let them dry on the meadow for a few hours. As soon as the injection is removed, your horse will eat it automatically. An ideal and healthy snack for a change. You can also dry these so that you have a winter supply. Available almost all year round thanks to Mother Nature.

Nettles are good for the skin, resistance, urinary tract, digestion, allergies and rheumatic and joint complaints.

They are a source of vitamins: A, B, C, D, E and K, tannins, formic acid, flavonoids, minerals: calcium, potassium, sodium, iron, silicon and bitter substances, histamine, acetylcholine etc.

Of course, there are many more interesting plants, trees, branches, fruits, etc. that contribute to the health of your horse. Rose hips, for example, are full of vitamin C, but Sea Buckthorn berries are also a true source of vitamins that you can pick in the fall.

Would you like to read more about healthy food? Our practical E-book OERVOER has 66 pages and is an extensive reference work for anyone interested in healthy nutrition for (itch-sensitive) horses and the 'why' behind nutritional advice.

We discuss causes of itching, evolution, intestinal flora, digestion, organs, detox, waste products, nutrients (micro and macronutrients), (un)healthy food, assessing feed labels, adjusting rations, pre- and probiotics, herbs, etc.


CPL oil The Natural Way Laura Cleirens 100% natural product medium solution CPL Chronic Progressive Lymphedema horses sober breed draft horse cold blood Friesian Tinker Cob Shire MLD therapist Manual Lymphatic Drainage sock horse socks mites legs wallpaper wounds folds skin

Indy with CPL oil © The Natural Way



Suitable CPL management consists of various factors over which you have a lot of influence.

First of all, encouraging exercise is extremely important in the management of CPL. We of course hope that your horse is not in a stable, but has the option to choose whether it is indoors or outdoors. An hour of driving or walking is really not enough to achieve good circulation. Free movement - when your horse chooses to move - is usually relaxed. Do you remember that cortisol levels drop when you relax and that the lymphatic system can then function optimally?

Since the lymphatic system does not have a pump - like the circulatory system has the heart - movement ensures this circulation. A well-functioning hoof mechanism ensures that lymphatic fluid is 'pumped' around. Correct and regular trimming plays a major role in this. Definitely avoid horseshoes. We are not in favor of that anyway, but horseshoes hinder the functioning of the hoof mechanism.

We do not like to see a horse (with CPL) in the stable. It is especially important to encourage your horse to exercise during the winter months, as we see an increase in complaints. Standing still for too long causes fluid and waste products to sink to the lower legs and stagnate there. We then recognize complaints such as thick legs. Without sufficient movement, no pumping movement is achieved that sends the lymph upward again. This is necessary to remove waste products and to achieve optimal functioning of the immune system.

You can encourage free movement using a track system around the meadow/paddock with various feeding, drinking and resting places in the herd. Always choose at least +1 places than you have horses, especially in unstable herds, this provides peace of mind. Hide herbs along the track so that your horse can look for a healthy treat full of curiosity.
Provide dry areas so that your horse does not have to stand in the mud and can maintain or obtain dry hooves/legs and plan for daily skin care to become a routine.


We close this CPL WEEK with a big thank you to all the people who followed, responded and shared with enthusiasm every day!


Discover our 100 % natural Zomereczeem lotion, Mok olie, CPL olie, Natuur Shampoo and OERVOER (E-book) about healthy nutrition for itch-sensitive horses HERE.

© Laura Cleirens - 2023.09.28
Last updated : 2024.01.03

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