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Healthy food for itch-sensitive horses

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

Healthy food, adapted to the needs of your horse, prevents and remedies many complaints. A disturbed intestinal balance is one of the biggest causes of itching in horses. This not only affects resistance, but also the overall health of your horse. So be sure to take your time for a thorough analysis.

The primal (food) needs are woven into the DNA of your horse and you start from a different starting point for each horse. Every horse is different, has a different background, in terms of breed, birth, nutrition and medically. The stable policy of "the same feed for every horse" therefore causes many problems.

We also regularly receive an email stating that someone's horse 'suddenly' suffers from itching, but has been fed the same feed for years, so that wouldn't be the cause. Rest assured that there is more than enough profit to be made here too by adjusting the feeding policy.

This blog is limited in content, but we wrote a complete E-book (66 pages) about healthy food for itch-sensitive horses: OERFOOD.


Healthy food for itch-sensitive horses, OER FOOD e-book, The Natural Way Laura Cleirens, summer eczema itching mug grater rain scab rain rot CPL chronic progressive lymphedema, herbal balancer concentrate roughage branches hay haylage grass meadow paddock

© The Natural Way


  • Healthy feeding
  • Roughage
  • Concentrates/supplementary feed/balancer
  • Spices
  • Grass
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Final word

Healthy feeding

We already said it: one of the biggest causes of itching is incorrect (unhealthy) nutrition or nutrition that is not adapted to the individual needs of your horse, resulting in a disturbed intestinal balance .

Horses that are fed inappropriately often only suffer from itching in the summer season when the body has problems processing waste products . Well-intentioned, we try to give our horses as tasty-looking food as possible, but unfortunately the labels of these packages often do not reveal much good: too much sugar, starch, proteins, grains, alfalfa,... And what follows? Itch!

Healthy feeding is therefore the start of good health and helps your horse to remain, become or keep complaints under control. Healthy feeding is tailor-made, depending on the individual needs of your horse, and is therefore not the same for every horse.

We can mention here some 'basic rules' for healthy intestinal flora:


Choose high-quality dry hay tied in strings, no haylage or silage. Simply put: don't feed hay that has plastic around it. Not even if your horse suffers from respiratory problems, for example, because this will encourage other complaints that you absolutely want to avoid (just think of laminitis and itching!).

You can offer hay in different portions and in different places, so that exercise is stimulated and your horse or pony does not become too fat. Because a healthy weight is also extremely important. Get inspiration from Paddock Paradise systems.

Also vary with branches from fruit trees, willow, hazel, poplar, ash, birch and alder. Variety is key!

Healthy food for itch-sensitive horses, OER FOOD e-book, The Natural Way Laura Cleirens, summer eczema itching mug grater rain scab rain rot CPL chronic progressive lymphedema, herbal balancer concentrate roughage branches hay haylage grass meadow paddock

Our little Ika, feasting on Willow branches © The Natural Way

Concentrates / supplementary feed / balancers

A good basis consists of high-quality hay and (possibly limited) grass as roughage. To meet the daily vitamin and mineral requirements (mainly in the winter months), you can offer healthy supplementary food.

Always choose grain-free food. Grains and fillers disrupt your horse's intestinal flora and are unsuitable as horse feed. This means: NO corn, barley, soy, molasses, coconut, apple or beet pulp, oat hulls, etc.
You also want to avoid leguminous plants in food, such as alfalfa (alfalfa) - and in some cases also esparcette - because these cause itching in many horses. A better alternative is timothee.

Find out what your horse responds well to by experimenting (tip: ask the feed manufacturer for samples or exchange with friends and stable mates), have the feed measured or be assisted by a nutritional advisor.

Feed should always be free of odors, colorings and flavorings with as few additives as possible and with a maximum content of 10% of sugars and starch together , as well as low in proteins. So be sure to read the label and do some research before ordering new food.

To clarify: in addition to grains, standard concentrates also contain an average of 20-30% sugar + starch content together, so you understand why this is not recommended.

Blood tests can provide insight into your horse's values ​​and the possible need for support with a balancer, vitamins, minerals, etc.
When choosing a balancer, keep the same tips in mind.

Healthy horse food: balancer herbs marigold narrow plantain nettle yarrow spirulina, low in sugar and starch for horses with summer eczema mug itching chafing on mane and tail eczema SME

Balancer with dried herbs © The Natural Way


Support intestinal flora, resistance and the lymphatic system with herbs, preferably fresh, such as narrow and large plantain, nettle, yarrow, thistles, burdock, marigold, chamomile, chickweed and dandelion.

In this article I will discuss all the above-mentioned herbs for horses in more detail.

Herbal medicinal, healthy safe for horses with summer eczema itching mug tail and mane eczema SME healthy food

Herbs for Horses © The Natural Way


Horses with sweet itch and grass... What is possible and what should you pay attention to?

Be especially careful with young spring grass. In Belgium and the Netherlands, horses are often kept on pastures that are grazed too briefly, and do not get enough time to rest and recuperate. This grass therefore contains too high concentrations of sugars and proteins, but a shortage of mineral trace elements and metals.

In our dry summers, nature craves water and the grass becomes "stressed" to grow. Added to this is a culture of intensive agriculture: (over) and/or incorrect fertilization (liquid manure, artificial fertilizer, etc.) and soil depletion. Choose compost on your meadows instead of fertilizer to create healthy soil.

Horses are able to supplement deficiencies themselves as much as possible by selecting their food while foraging. However, most pastures in our region are too monotonous and not suitable for horses. The nutrition that your horse can find here is often so limited, which means that he will often eat too large an amount to supplement his shortage. The disadvantage of this is that it also causes him to absorb too much of other nutrients. This will cause digestion to become out of balance, resulting in waste products piling up in the body. The skin as an excretory organ will respond to this when the organs are overloaded and this promotes obesity.

Itch-sensitive horses can thrive on grass, but grazing must be individualized. One horse will be able to walk in the herd 24/7, while other horses can only be on the grass for a few hours or not at all.
Strip grazing or a grazing mask are interesting because you can limit and control grass intake.

Monotonous grasslands are a thing of the past, choose diverse and herb-rich meadows that are naturally maintained.

Fruits and vegetables

Horses are welcome to eat a piece of fresh fruit or vegetables every now and then. Be careful with horses that are sensitive to sugars (fruit sugars) and pectin (vegetables).
For horses with sweet itch or metabolic problems, it is also recommended to always feed in moderation and therefore not too large portions.

Vegetables : Carrot, beetroot, kohlrabi, artichoke, turnip, chicory, fennel, celery, parsnip, cucumber, broccoli, lettuce,...

Fruit : Apple, pear, banana, plum and apricot (without pit), berries, strawberry, raspberry, watermelon (without peel), pumpkin,...

Note : buy organic, pesticide-free fruits and vegetables for your horse!
Fruits and vegetables, edible for horses The Natural Way Laura Cleirens
Healthy variation © The Natural Way

Are you not sure whether your horse has sweet itch or another itchy condition? In this article I made a clear overview.

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 - 2020.10.25
Last updated: 2024.01.20

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