Grazing Thistles & Nettles
It is totally normal for horses to eat thistles; they are very good for the liver and nettles are rich in iron and vitamins, they are also a good anti-inflammatory and extremely good for laminitics.
When nettles are young, if you cut them & leave them to wilt, the sting goes out of them and the horses will eat them; as they get older and drier, they don't sting so much and the horses will eat them from the stalk.
We are so used to seeing grazing land that is so sanitized that nothing else but grass is allowed to grow, but that is a very unbalanced diet; horses by nature are browsers and grazers, in the wild they would eat a variety of herbage, not just grass.
Old lay hay meadows are now scarce, but were full of many different species of plants.
If allowed to browse through the hedgerows in the summer, they will eat Cleavers (or Goosegrass), cow parsley, raspberry leaves, Blackberry leaves, Willow - for aspirin, Dandelion which is also good for the liver and other plants selectively depending on what their body needs at that time.
Horses have survived for millions of years - they didn't have access to doctors or vets, so they self medicate on what nature provides.
Observe what your horse chooses to eat at different times or on different days; sometimes he may just want grass and other times, he may need something else!
Author: Beryl Forrest
B Forrest Saddlery & Rug Repairs