I’m a huge fan of coconut oil for horses and at home. I use it in everything from baking to diaper rash cream (and there’s not many products I can say that about!). There’s plenty of info out there about the benefits of coconut oil for people, but what about our “significant others” (and you know I’m talking about your horse). Well it turns out they can benefit from it too, and with so many anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties it’s right at home in the barn. Here’s a list of my favorite equine uses for coconut oil (in no particular order):
1. Improving Gut Health – Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides (MCT) that are easier to digest, absorb and convert to energy than the traditionally used vegetable oils. It’s been reported to assist with ulcers, acidosis, colic and dysbiosis and is particularly helpful for horses on a grain-based feed.
2. Wound Care – Apply it liberally on cuts to help fight infection and minimize proud flesh.
3. Entice Picky Eaters – Most horses seem to love the taste so it’s a great way to hide less palatable supplements and medications.
4. Coat, Mane & Tail Conditioner – Unlike petroleum based or silicone based products, it’s easily absorbed into hair and skin. Try fractioned coconut oil in my recipe for Homemade Coat Conditioner or DIY Grooming Wipes.
5. Insect Bites & Stings – Helps sooth and protect against infection.
6. Mud Fever – The anti-microbial effects are perfect for treating mud fever and helping to prevent reinfection.
7. “Cool” Energy source – Coconut Oil is energy dense and yields about 2 times more energy than starch or protein. It gives your horse a readily digestible energy, without the “hotness” that generally comes with high grain diets (great for you OTTB riders!).
8. Hoof Conditioner – This stuff will do wonders for dry cracked hooves.
9. Easy to Store Supplement – Since it’s naturally resistant to rancidity, it can be safely stored at room temperature for several years versus vegetable oils which may only last a few months (I’ve been guilty of keeping a jug of corn oil in the feed room for WAY too long).
10. Reducing Hay – If the price of hay in your area is sky high then coconut oil can help you add extra calories without increasing your hay bill. It’s also great for seniors or hard keepers that don’t gain weight not matter how much hay or grass you provide.
When adding coconut oil to your feeding program it’s important to introduce it gradually and adjust according to your horse’s needs. I’ve seen recommended dosage ranging from 1/8 to 1/2 cup per day for healthy, working horses (just to give you a rough idea).
Update – I’ve received a ton of emails about feeding coconut oil, so I’ll try to answer a few questions here.
How to Feed it: Coconut oil can range
from liquid to rock hard depending on the temperature. Since I find soft oil the easiest to feed, I keep it stored in a warm place (near a heating vent, stove etc.) in the winter. Then I can stir it in, or even just mash it into the bottom of a bucket for my horses to lick. It could also be microwaved to soften, if you’re lucky enough to have a barn kitchen, but please check the temperature before feeding!
How much to feed: This is a hard one to answer, since every horse’s dietary needs are so unique. My standard advice is to start small (work up to 1/8 cup twice daily). Be patient, since it may take several weeks to see results. When in doubt, always consult your vet, but I will add that many vets are still on the
vegetable oil bandwagon and therefore won’t recommend it. Do your own research, and decide what works for you and your horse.
How to buy it: See my follow-up post Feeding Coconut Oil To Horses…Without Going Broke!
I hope this is helpful. Thank you for all the wonderful feedback.
What’s your favorite use for coconut oil?