Feeding mushrooms to your horse can have numerous benefits.
“What do you mean I should feed my horse mushrooms? Horses don’t eat mushrooms! I don’t need her to see more imaginary objects than she already does – just imagine what would happen if she were soaring over a jump and the jump started to move!” These are a few of the typical comments people make when they first hear about using mushrooms on their horses. But we’re not talking about magic mushrooms of the 70s or the poisonous ones you hear about in news. No one is suggesting that horses go around their pastures picking mushrooms and sautéing them for dinner. These are special types of mushrooms.
Mushrooms have a root layer called the mycelium. This network of roots in the ground allows them to share nutrients and fight bacteria and disease. They are one cell thick; experts estimate that one inch of topsoil contains enough fungal cells to stretch more than eight miles if placed end to end. It would be similar to the underground network between trees in the movie Avatar.
Horses all over the world have been eating this powerful mycelial layer for centuries, every time they graze. More recently, they have been used in horses for many different ailments as well as general health. Olympic horses, Kentucky Derby winners and World Games horses benefit from these products along with local competitors at small shows or events.
It’s in the Blend
Specific mushrooms are used for their different properties. For example, the Reishi mushroom has adaptogentic benefits that can help horses process their stresses better. Reishi will give you a horse that is easier to train and enjoys his job more. Being able to process stress more efficiently has physical benefits as well, since stress can cause many different health issues, such as equine gastric ulcers.
The blend of mushrooms used is very important when it comes to performance horses. Animals that need to run long distances – such as endurance or race horses, barrel racers or three-day horses – will benefit from a different blend of mushrooms than horses that rely more on muscle strength, like dressage, cutting or show jumping horses. The cortycep mushroom has a long history of building muscle mass and helping with muscle recovery. The most famous story related to this mushroom took place at the 1993 Olympic Games when the Chinese women’s track and field team, led by coach Mr. Ma, broke multiple world records. The world was puzzled by this amazing surge in performance. There was speculation of steroid use, but the team told the world that their secret was cortycep mushrooms. They found they helped the athletes recover faster from strenuous training, thus allowing them to train harder. This has been proven true in horses as well.
Head to Toe Benefits
Another beneficial aspect of mushrooms that is well known in horses is hoof health. Farriers have tried many other products on the market and are often dissatisfied with the results, if there are any. But increased hoof health and growth when using them is seen across all types of hooves.
Many people don’t think about supplements for their horses’ mouths or teeth, but improved dental health is another surprising and powerful effect provided by these mushrooms. As horses get older, they can develop dental issues similar to people. They work to support horses with dental disease; in fact, the use of mushrooms for dental disease has been a topic studied at universities in the US and Europe.
There are many more ways mushrooms are being used to help horses all over the world, and the studies are continuing. If you are looking for a natural way to increase the health and well being of your horses, whether they are sick, performing or just for their overall benefit, consider mushrooms as your solution!
After graduating from University of CA, Davis with a double major in economics and organizational sociology, Jenna Hahn started her work in the Animal Health Industry. She has worked for large pharmaceutical companies as a territory manager, key accounts manager and equine specialist and has consulted for many small businesses in the pet and equine markets. Jenna is very active in the veterinary industry where she has spent most of her career working with veterinarians and their staff to help improve the quality of life for the animals we love. Jenna has been an avid show jumper her whole life, and rides and shows in CA.